After suffering a disappointing 3-0 whitewash at the hands of England at home, Sri Lanka will be on the road for more than 100 days, in what is sure to be a challenging period for the lions.
The islanders will be travelling to the Southern Hemisphere during their summer, starting off in New Zealand, to play two Tests, three ODIs and one T20I.
After New Zealand, Sri Lanka will go straight to Australia and then to South Africa, in what would be three difficult away tours.
The Test team is set to depart for New Zealand on 3rd December with the first Test scheduled to start on 15th December. The squad has not been announced, at the time of writing, with the new selection panel led by former Asantha De Mel pondering their options.
According to reliable sources, Sri Lanka is set to take 16-17 players for the red-ball matches.
Regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal has been declared fit after suffering a groin strain during the 1st Test against England. His presence will be vital to the fortunes of a mis-firing Lankan batting lineup on seamer-friendly surfaces.
Left-handed opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka made 6 and 18 during the third Test against England at the top of the order and is not guaranteed of a place for the first Test in New Zealand. But, Gunathilaka will most likely make the cut with Kaushal Silva set to face the axe after making only 41 runs in 4 innings in the first Two Tests.
Experienced Lahiru Thirimanne and young Sadeera Samarawickrama, who last played Test cricket in India last year, are also in contention to make a comeback to the Test team.
Samarawickrama, impressed with the ODI team against England scoring 90 runs in 3 innings with one half-century. With Niroshan Dickwella failing with his bat at number seven and having a difficualt time behind the stumps, Samarawickrama, should be able to fill in as a stumper, in case the team management opts for a change of gloves.
After being reported for a suspect bowling action in Galle, Akila Dananjaya underwent a biomechanics test in Brisbane last week. But, is it wise to include him in the Test plans without knowing the results? The pitches in New Zealand will prompt a seven batsmen, one spinner and three seamer combination, hence Dananjaya should only make the trip only for the ODIs.
Dilruwan Perera bowled exceptionally well against England, taking 22 wickets against England and will continue to lead the spin-attack.
The choice of the second spinner will be tough with Malinda Pushpakumara and Lakshan Sandakan, who both played the final Test, in the fray. The islanders are likely to go in with the wrist-spin option of Sandakan.
Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Kasun Rajitha are automatic choices in the pace-front while Nuwan Pradeep and Lahiru Gamage might also make a return to the Test lineup.
Pradeep had a plethora of injuries while playing Tests and the previous selection committee took a stand of fielding him only for limited-overs cricket. He is now back to full fitness and will be a vital seam-bowling option in New Zealand while Gamage should make his way back into the Test squad if the selectors decide not to consider speedster Lahiru Kumara due to disciplinary issues.
Probable Sri Lanka squad for New Zealand Tests – Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Gamage and Nuwan Pradeep.