Sun, 26 May 2019

History beckons for Sri Lanka's miracle men

20 Feb 2019, 23:52 GMT+10

Sri Lanka WLLLD

In the spotlight

Ottis Gibson said on Tuesday that he wants more first-innings runs from his top order. Dean Elgar was out for a fourth-ball duck in the first innings in Durban, but there is perhaps a little more pressure on Hashim Amla, who managed just 3 in the first innings and 16 in the second. After a serious dip in form, Amla enjoyed a mini resurgence against Pakistan, averaging over 50 across three Tests against them, and South Africa need him to continue in the same vein.

It would be unfair to expect Kusal Perera to immediately follow up his heroics from Durban, but some sense of expectation is almost inevitable after he contributed a first-innings fifty and that unforgettable ton to kick off the tour. That was just his second Test hundred, and his long-format form coming into this series gave little indication of what was to come. His will be an especially prize wicket for South Africa.

Team news

With Vernon Philander ruled out by a hamstring strain, Wiaan Mulder could be in line for a Test debut. With a first-class batting average of 43.08, Mulder will also strengthen South Africa's batting a little and help balance the side.

South Africa (probable): 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Aiden Markram, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 Temba Bavuma, 6 Quinton de Kock (wk), 7 Wiaan Mulder, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Duanne Olivier

There is a cloud over Kusal Mendis' fitness after he rolled an ankle at practice and Sri Lanka will only clear him on the morning of the Test. Should he be unable to play, Sri Lanka may look to slot Milinda Siriwardana into their middle order or offer Angelo Perera a Test debut.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 2 Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Oshada Fernando, 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Kusal Perera, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Suranga Lakmal, 9 Lasith Embuldeniya, 10 Kasun Rajitha, 11 Vishwa Fernando

Pitch and conditions

The pitches at St George's Park have a reputation for playing on the slow side, but the last time Kagiso Rabada bowled in a Test match here - against Australia in March last year - he picked up 11 wickets in the match, and the third-best match figures ever recorded at the ground. Four fifties and a hundred were also scored in that game, and even if the track is a little lifeless, skill with both ball and ball can bear reward at St George's Park. The day before the Test, the track to be used had a good covering of live grass on it. There is a little rain forecast during the Test, but it won't be anywhere near as hot and humid as it was in Durban.

Stats and trivia

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