Captain Dimuth Karunaratne says Sri Lanka will use their agonising last-gasp defeat to New Zealand as motivation when the second Test starts on Friday in Wellington.
Kane Williamson sealed a thrilling New Zealand win by running a bye as the first Test went to the final ball in Christchurch.
The hosts’ two-wicket triumph scuppered Sri Lanka’s chances of making the World Test Championship final, handing the spot to India, who will face Australia.
READ: New Zealand win last-ball Test thriller
“Unfortunately we aren’t in a position to progress [to the final], but it’s a two-Test series and we have to play for our pride,” Karunaratne told reporters on Thursday.
“I can see the boys in the dressing room still want to win this match and draw the series.”
Karunaratne knows his team paid a heavy price for fielding errors in Christchurch, particularly when danger man Williamson was dropped on 33. He went on to make a match-winning century.
“There were small things we couldn’t do well, that is the only concern, but we’re trying to correct the mistakes,” said Karunaratne.
The Sri Lankan skipper says his seam bowlers can cause problems for Williamson and New Zealand’s top order.
Asitha Fernando took seven wickets in the first Test.
“We can challenge the Kiwi top batters every time, even some of their players said to me that they didn’t expect that kind of bowling pressure from the Sri Lankans,” said Karunaratne. “That’s a plus point.”
The second Test is at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, scene of the hosts’ memorable one-run win over England last month which squared that two-Test series.
“We had great crowds last time we were here and got people talking about Test cricket,” said captain Tim Southee, whose Black Caps are chasing a third straight Test win.
Showers and high winds are forecast on Friday and Southee will decide his team after inspecting the green wicket.
“We’ll have a final look in the morning as there is a bit of weather around,” he added.
All-rounder Doug Bracewell has been added to the New Zealand squad as cover for Neil Wagner, who is sidelined after finishing the first Test with a back and hamstring injury.
Southee expects Sri Lanka to put up another stern test.
“They are a quality side, as we saw in Christchurch,” he said. “They have had a great two-year cycle in the World Test Championship and they will want to finish strong in what has been a good two years for them.
“It’s a special occasion, this is our last Test for the summer and our last for a number of months, so I am sure the guys will want a good finish to what’s been an exciting summer.”
© Agence France-Presse