South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Preview: Proteas eye utter domination against the struggling Islanders
South Africa doesn't boast of a great record at the Kingsmead.
Published - Feb 12, 2019 7:27 pm | Updated - Feb 12, 2019 7:27 pm
Talk about mismatch and the Test series between South Africa and Sri Lanka in the rainbow nation is the perfect example for it. Even the struggling Australia ended their home summer on a stupendous high by going past the Sri Lankans without much fuss. No wonder that this series has generated least interest with the visiting side expected to go down against the full strength hosts.
Sri Lanka’s skipper Dinesh Chandimal has been dropped for this series after his consistent failures with the bat even as the veteran Angelo Mathews continues to miss out due to injury troubles. Dimuth Karunaratne is the new skipper for the Islanders in whites and clearly, has a tough job at his hands and most importantly has to lead from the front if Sri Lanka are hoping to pose any kind of challenge in front of South Africa.
The Proteas are coming off a great 3-0 win over Pakistan in the recent series and the mood couldn’t have been better in their camp. Also, the way the Australian batsmen found their lost groove against Sri Lanka, even the hosts’ batters will hope to stat pad in this series against the inexperienced bowling attack.
The only inspiration for Sri Lanka going into the series opener will be their stunning win over South Africa in the home series last year. But then, they had Mathews and Rangana Herath at their disposal. Also, another record which will delight the Lankans is the home side’s poor record at the Kingsmead. South Africa won their last Test at the venue in 2013 and haven’t beaten the visitors as well.
Given the kind of surfaces have been offered this summer in South Africa, Faf du Plessis might opt to go with an all-pace attack yet again. This means that the pace quartet of Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier is set to wreak havoc in the opposition camp. Also, this presents an opportunity to Theunis de Bruyn to amend his Test career while Keshav Maharaj will have to wait for his chance again. However, with slow surface at the Kingsmead, he might get a nod.
Probable XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (c), Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier.
Sri Lanka have made a lot of changes to their squad after the debacle in Australia. With no Chandimal in the squad, Dhananjaya de Silva might go back to play at number three while Angelo Perera, who scored a double century in both the innings in first-class cricket recently, might get a debut with a middle-order slot up for grabs. Suranga Lakmal is also fit after missing the second Test in Canberra and will lead the pace attack.
Probable XI: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana/Anglo Perera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando.
Focus will be on
Aiden Markam (South Africa)
Aiden Markam has only shown flashes of brilliance so far in his career. With the pitches in South Africa not being easy to bat on, the opening batsman has found it tough to get going this summer. This series might just be the opportunity for him to redeem himself. Having said that, Markram has to see off the new ball if the Proteas bat first with the pitch expected to assist the fast bowlers.
Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka)
If opening in Tests overseas wasn’t an easy challenge, Karunaratne has an added responsibility of leading a faltering line-up at the moment. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the captaincy and it goes without saying that he needs to lead from the front with the bat. Even on the field, the left-hander will have to make better decisions and also keep the spirits of his team high at a venue where Sri Lanka are yet to lose to South Africa in Tests.
Head to Head
Matches – 27 | South Africa won – 14 | Sri Lanka won – 7 | Draw – 6
90 – Keshav Maharaj need 10 wickets to complete 100 scalps in Test cricket.
TV – Sony Networks
Live Streaming – Sony LIV
Match Timings – 13.30 IST; 10 local
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