SA set to battle inner demons, tough conditions in a bid to level series


South Africa’s chances of levelling the two-Test series will depend heavily on how their batsmen tackle Sri Lanka’s spinners. © AFP
Patience, perseverance, courage, shrewdness are the key qualities expected out of South Africa’s batsmen when they take on Sri Lanka in the final Test of the two-match series in Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo on Friday (July 20).


The Proteas’ inability to tackle quality spin was badly exposed in Galle by Ranaga Herath and company. The lack of a confidence in their own defence was evident and few even threw wickets away in trying to use their feet.

Battling spin in the sub-continent requires a lot of skill and mental toughness. The visitors need not look beyond their captain, Faf du Plessis, for lessons. The most important thing he did well in the first innings was to not push hard at the ball and he was smart enough to give due respect to the bowlers when they were on top of their game.

The think tank must have tried to address these issues in the build-up to the second Test, but it’ll all come down to how well the batsmen execute while out in the middle. The post AB de Villiers era will take time to blossom, but South Africa would want to show some fight, even if they are to go down in Colombo.

There is not much to worry about in the bowling department though. Kagiso Rabada can threaten batsmen anytime, while Keshav Maharaj’s variations and accuracy keeps the pressure on batsmen. The visitors would immensely benefit if the-bowling-well-within-himself Dale Steyn steps up a notch. Mystery man Tabraiz Shamsi too needs to compliment Maharaj to keep the Sri Lankans honest.


Although Sri Lanka won the game by a massive margin, they did not have a satisfying outing with the bat. Dimuth Karunaratne is in sublime form, scoring 448 runs in his last five innings (including two matches for Sri Lanka A). The second best individual score in the first innings was 26 and the disturbing thing is that their No. 11 made the next best. In the second innings too, only three batsmen crossed 20. This sort of a batting display, especially when playing at home, will not please the team management.

The surface at SSC generally plays better for batting than Galle and this should be an ideal opportunity for Suranga Lakmal and Co. to better their numbers. The presence of savvy spinners in Herath and Dilruwan Perera irons out the flaws with the bat. The duo have been making batsmen dance to their tunes for a considerable period and Sri Lanka will hope their wonderful partnership continues to bring more success.

When: Sri Lanka vs South Africa, 2nd Test, July 20-24, 10am local time.

Where: Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo

What to expect: No doubt the pitch will assist the spinners, but it is expected to play better for batsmen than the first Test. Inclement weather is predicted on all five days of the game.


Team news

South Africa

Will the visitors rope in a specialist batsman to handle their batting woes in place of a bowler? If yes, one of Vernon Philander or Tabraiz Shamsi could get the axe and make way for Theunis de Bruyn or Heinrich Klaasen. Philander hasn’t looked ominous due to lack of lateral movement that he relies on, but he showed excellent application with the bat and batted better than most in the team in Galle.

Leaving out Shamsi would mean they will not have a second spinner, a strict no-no in sub-continental conditions. The team could also consider looking at Shaun von Berg, who can bat a bit as well. Faf and the management have a few interesting calls to make.

Probable XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (w), Vernon Philander/Theunis de Bruyn/Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Tabraiz Shamsi/Shaun von Berg

Sri Lanka

Barring injuries, the hosts are unlikely to tinker with their winning combination

Probable XI: Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella(w), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal(c), Lakshan Sandakan

What they said:

“Sri Lanka are really good in their conditions, they showed that when they beat Australia here as well. There is everything to play for, South Africans are known to bounce back when we do lose our first match. The boys have worked hard, we are ready to give Sri Lanka a go in their conditions. We have come here as underdogs,” Keshav Maharaj, South Africa’s spinner.

Shared News | Last updated on Thu, 19 Jul, 2018, 05:11 PM

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