5 Players to watch out for in the upcoming Sri Lanka-South Africa Test series
It’s been four years since South Africa last toured Sri Lanka and a lot has changed as far as the South African team is concerned. Only 6 players in the current 15-man squad have experience of playing in Sri Lanka.
In fact, for most of the other players, this is their first trip to the subcontinent. But the South African team is in very good form and they have won 8 out of their last 9 Test series (with their only loss coming in England last year).
On the other hand, Sri Lanka have been in decent form too, but they’ve been inconsistent. After the 3-0 drubbing against India at home, they won 2-0 against Pakistan in UAE, they lost a 3-match series 1-0 in India (where they competed really well), they beat Bangladesh 1-0 in Bangladesh and recently came from behind to square a closely contested three-match series in West Indies.
South Africa have not had a great time touring the subcontinent in recent times. They drew 0-0 against Bangladesh in a 2-match series which was largely affected by rain but South Africa had their struggles against the turning ball. They were spun into submission in India in 2015 and lost 3-0.
However, it’s been more than six years since Sri Lanka beat South Africa in a Test match and their last win at home against the Proteas came way back in 2006 when Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara shared a record-shattering 624.
Hence, Sri Lanka will be striving for consistency while the Proteas will want to improve their recent record against spin. This is also South Africa’s first series after AB de Villiers’ retirement.
Thus, here’s a look at 5 players who could be game-changers in the series.
#5 Dale Steyn
The last time Dale Steyn lasted a full test series was back in 2016 against New Zealand. In that two-match Test series, Steyn picked up 10 wickets in 3 innings which included a fifer. Since then he’s largely found himself out injured. He broke down in the first Test in Australia in 2016 and against India at home earlier this year. In fact, in 4 out of the last 5 Test series, Steyn has played, he hasn’t lasted past the first Test.
Also, Steyn is just three wickets short of surpassing Shaun Pollock’s tally of 421 Test wickets and if he does that, he will become the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in Test cricket. But it will be interesting to see how he goes after the umpteenth injury break.
But South Africa’s second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket seems to be in good rhythm. He recently took part in County cricket and represented Hampshire where he played a couple of First Class games and 3 List ‘A’ games. He ran in hard and bowled with great intensity and will be one of the bowlers to watch out for. He also has a great record in Asia. He’s taken a staggering 90 wickets in 20 Test matches and also has 5 five-wicket hauls.