Coach Chris Silverwood said Sri Lanka would be doing their absolute best to qualify for the World Test Championship (WTC) final during their two-match series in New Zealand to give the people back home something to cheer about. Sri Lanka, who are third in the WTC rankings behind already qualified Australia and India, will need to beat the reigning test champion Black Caps 2-0 to have a chance of playing in June’s final at The Oval.
India could take matters out of Sri Lankan hands with a win in its fourth test against Australia next week but Silverwood said the team would be determined to take advantage of any slip up to raise the spirits of an embattled nation. “It would mean everything to them,” he said in Christchurch ahead of a tour game against a New Zealand XI. “The country has been through a bit recently and we know the spirits are really lifted when the cricket team is doing well.
“The guys are very aware of that and take that responsibility very seriously, so they’ll be desperate to give them something to smile about back at home. “To get to the WTC Final would be unbelievable, but at the same time we know we’ve got a very good New Zealand team in front of us as well and we have to respect that, work hard, and try and earn that right.”
Sri Lanka is grappling with its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948, beset by inflation, a shortage of foreign exchange, a plummeting currency and a steep recession. The tourists will play a youthful New Zealand XI over the weekend at Bert Sutcliffe Oval to prepare for the opening test against New Zealand at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval starting next Thursday.
“We’re looking to get as ready as possible for the first test match, we want to hit the road running and to do that we have to make sure that we prep well here,” Silverwood added. “We want to make sure the batsmen get a good hit and get used to conditions and that bowlers get overs under their belts as well.”