South Africa VS Sri Lanka Test Series: 5 Key Talking Points
You would rarely see two teams coming into a series with more diametrically opposed forms than hosts South Africa and visitors Sri Lanka for the two-match contest that gets underway on February 13.
The Proteas pummelled Pakistan 3-0 in their last series while the Sri Lankans suffered a 2-0 whitewash against Australia. It is an understatement to state that the home side are the favourites.
If things weren’t bad enough for Sri Lankan cricket, they got even worse with their Test captain Dinesh Chandimal getting sacked as well as dumped from the Test team. This, on top of the injury to Angelo Mathews makes the Sri Lankan batting line-up wafer-thin.
The bowling line-up stands depleted also due to the absence of capable Lahiru Kumara and experienced Nuwan Pradeep who are suffering with injuries.
An already struggling team has been rendered even more vulnerable due to the desire of the selectors to act angrily. Chandimal’s axing might seem deserved due to his feeble returns in recent times but his experience and ability would have been invaluable in hostile South African conditions.
So, with the result of the series easy to predict, let us explore those aspects of these upcoming Tests which will hold interest for the spectators.
Competition Among SA Pacers
In the series against Pakistan, it was Duanne Olivier who emerged as the leading South African bowler in terms of wickets. Now, with another Asian batting line-up full of inexperience in front of them, the South African seamers will be grappling amongst themselves to top the wicket-taking chart.
Rabada would be keen to keep his incredible record intact while Steyn, who looks fully fit, could prove his superiority over his junior teammates. Olivier would be licking his lips at the prospect of bouncing out the visiting batsmen in the same manner as he did in the Pakistan series.
Then comes Philander who is going to keep probing with correct lines and lengths and, as always, remain a big threat. These four form the quartet that is likely to be churned out for tormenting the Lankans.
What would be interesting to see is whether Keshav Maharaj gets a chance to play in the series. He had a rich haul of wickets including a 9 wicket haul against the same opposition last year in spin-friendly conditions. At the moment, it is unlikely.