Cricket: McCullum hoping for more turn

Brendon McCullum hopes the pitch at the Galle International Stadium will take even more turn in the latter stages of New Zealand's test against Sri Lanka. Photo / AP.
Brendon McCullum hopes the pitch at the Galle International Stadium will take even more turn in the latter stages of New Zealand's test against Sri Lanka. Photo / AP.

Brendon McCullum hopes the pitch at the Galle International Stadium will take even more turn in the latter stages of New Zealand's test against Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan finger spinner Rangana Herath managed to get a decent amount of turn on day one of the test on Saturday as New Zealand were rolled for 221 in their first innings, despite not being recognised as a prodigious spinner of the ball.

The home side will likely have to bat last on the deck and McCullum said that could work in New Zealand's favour.

"I thought the pitch was good," McCullum said. "I see it turned a lot more than what we probably anticipated it would on day one of a test match. But that's what you also expect when you come over to the sub-continent. You expect turning tracks and it certainly didn't turn and bite as well.

"It was sort of slow turn and I guess we expected that turn will become quicker as the game goes on and we've obviously got Jeetan Patel in our line-up.

And, we've got a couple of other guys who can bowl spin."

Patel is the only front-line twirler in the New Zealand playing XI, after coach Mike Hesson elected not to hand a debut to leg-spinner Todd Astle who is part of the squad.

Herath did most of the damage for Sri Lanka as he claimed 5-65, while he got good support from seamer Shaminda Eranga who took 3-51.

Making the transition from one-day cricket to tests can be tough, but McCullum didn't believe that was the reason behind New Zealand's poor batting performance in their first innings.

Backing up after five rain-affected one-dayers and a washed-out Twenty20 match, New Zealand climbed straight in to the whites for the two-test series.

McCullum led New Zealand's charge with 68, while Daniel Flynn (53) was the only other batsman to pass 30.

When questioned if the lack of a three-day warm-up game was the reason behind New Zealand's dismal total, McCullum said it wasn't the problem.

"I think this day in age you get used to being able to chop and change between various formats and we've got over half our squad who have been back home playing four-day cricket as well. So they're very well prepared turning up here and the rest of us are pretty adept in terms of being able to change formats."

New Zealand's lack of runs could come back to haunt them as the game progresses and McCullum conceded they needed to make more.

"[It's] not the batting performance we were after. Clearly when you win the toss and bat first at Galle you're hoping for a score in excess of 400. But we weren't able to do that and we are going to address that. We've got an opportunity to bat again in this test match and we are going to have to ensure we do it a lot better than what we did."

Sri Lanka closed day one on 9-1 after Tim Southee dismissed debutant opener Dimuth Karunaratne for a duck before stumps were called.

- APNZ

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