South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test Preview: Proteas set to make it 2-0 against injury-ravaged Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka will be without four of their first XI players - Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva. Their leading pacer Suranga Lakmal also failed a fitness test.
How tide turned at Centurion
Sri Lanka were well-placed at 320/5 in the first innings of the Centurion test and looked set to post a mammoth total. However, their middle order suffered a collapse and they were bowled out for 396. Still, it was their highest total on South African soil.
At the same time, they suffered a setback during their batting innings with Dhananjaya de Silva retiring hurt after he strained a tendon in his left thigh on the first day itself. Despite the injury, Sri Lanka had a chance to make a match out of it.
However, they were struck a deadly blow when Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara - two of Sri Lanka's frontline pace bowlers - injured their groins in South Africa's first innings. With the off spin option of Dhananjaya de Silva already taken away, Sri Lanka suddenly found themselves three bowlers short.
Even the best team in the world would have struggled in such a situation, let alone Sri Lanka who do not have the best of records in test cricket of late and were playing in some of the toughest conditions for teams from the subcontinent.
Despite Vishwa Fernando and Wanindu Hasaranga sharing 7 wickets between them and Dasun Shanaka, initially selected as a batting all-rounder, bowling his heart out with two wickets to show for, South Africa's mountain of 621 runs in their first innings was a bit too much for the visitors to cope with. As a result, the Proteas took a healthy lead.
It was always going to be a struggle for Sri Lanka from there on. They were bowled out for just 180 in their second innings. Despite scoring close to 400 runs in the first innings, the team conceded a heavy defeat by a margin of an innings and 45 runs to go 0-1 down in the two-match test series.
Injury-ravaged Sri Lanka at huge disadvantage
Sri Lanka are without Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva for the second test match. Wanindu Hasaranga, who was their highest wicket-taker in the first test, also had some discomfort after injuring himself while fielding. This puts Sri Lanka at a huge disadvantage.
Sri Lanka's replacements - Thirimanne, Bhanuka, Chameera & Fernando
Fortunately, the visitors came to South Africa with a 21-player touring party which will allow them to have enough players to make up a decent XI. Lahiru Thirimanne and Minod Bhanuka will replace Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva in the Sri Lankan batting order.
In place of the injured pacers Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera and Asitha Fernando will come in. However, both of them have played less than 10 test matches each and the South African batting will have a chance to exploit their inexperience.
Beuran Hendricks likely to play, Rabada unlikely
Beuran Hendricks was initially part of the South African squad for the first test but had to be pulled out for reasons related to Covid-19. Although CSA did not state categorically that he was tested positive, coach Mark Boucher did hint at it.
Hendricks was expected to be a part of the playing XI in the first test match and is now likely to play the second test of his career. He can come in place of Lungi Ngidi, who was already carrying a niggle in the lead-up to the Centurion test or Lutho Sipamla, who was quite expensive in the first test match.
South Africa have already struck off the possibility of going in with an all-pace attack after Boucher said that it could be very dangerous to go into a test match without a frontline spinner. Although Kagiso Rabada has been added to the South African squad for the second test, they are unlikely to risk him without proper conditioning.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
South Africa - Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Temba Bavuma, Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Beuran Hendricks, Lutho Sipamla/Lungi Ngidi
Sri Lanka - Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Minod Bhanuka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando
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