If the Lankans struggled and lost the Test series 2-0 against Australia, they have even lesser chance of making a mark in South Africa. The pitches in South Africa of late have been conducive to swing bowling to the extent that they have even received their fair share of criticism for being too heavily inclined in the favour of the bowlers.
The ball both swings and seams off the surface in South Africa. The bounce at a few grounds, especially Capetown, is very good and teams particularly from the subcontinent struggle to adjust to the conditions. By the time, they get acclimatized, they easily are 0-2 down in the series and it gets very tough for them to bounce back.
The Lankans had their issues with their leading pacers in Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep suffering injuries. The batting lineup though talented looks very brittle. If South Africa succeed in nicking off the openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva, they can pick up a bunch of wickets quickly. Then it is left to Niroshan Dickwella to score some quick runs before the entire batting order collapses.
For South Africa, Dean Elgar has learnt the art of battling it out and scoring ugly runs at the top of the order. He will get good support from the likes of Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis. With the ball, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn will be the leading men while Keshav Maharaj will bear the responsibility of the spin attack.
Let's have a look at the probable playing XI of both teams.
South Africa- Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Theunis de Bruyn, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Keshav Maharaj, Dale Steyn, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada
Sri Lanka- Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando
Who will win? – South Africa
Top Batsman (Runs Scored) –Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka), Dean Elgar (South Africa)
Top Bowler (Wickets taken) – Suranga Lakmal (Sri Lanka), Vernon Philander (South Africa)
Most Fours – Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka), Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
Team Scores Batting First – Sri Lanka 150+, South Africa 260+
*NB these predictions may be changed nearer the start of the match once the final starting teams have been announced and we will be running ‘In–Play’ features soon, so stay tuned.
©Cricket World 2019