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SA vs SL: Revamped Sri Lanka face a steep South African hill

Sri Lanka land in South Africa having lost six of their last seven Test matches, which includes series’ against England (in Sri Lanka), New Zealand in New Zealand and Australia in Australia. Dumbfounded by each of these nations, the Island Nation has revamped their Test squad heading to South Africa for a two-match Test series.

South Africa, on the other hand, have been in good form since losing to Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka mid of last year. They beat Pakistan 3-0 in the only series they played post that tour but overall have been in terrific form at home, winning 8 of their 10 Tests at home since 2018. They have form behind them but a few injury concerns too and would look to upset the depleted Lankans in the two-match series.

Squads

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhananjaya De Silva, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohamed Shiraz, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.

Recent form (from most recent to oldest)

Sri Lanka – LLLDL

Sri Lanka were whitewashed 3-0 at home by England before they went Down Under to play the Kiwis and Australia. They salvaged a draw in one of the two Tests in New Zealand but lost the other to concede the series. In Australia, they were thumped by a much superior bowling attack and came a cropper with the bat too.

South Africa – WWWLL

South Africa whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 at home, courtesy a terrific performance from their quick bowlers who have been in rip-roaring form for a while now under Ottis Gibson. Prior to that they had lost 2-0 in Sri Lanka and would hope to avenge that defeat this series.

South Africa’s record at home since 2018

South Africa have hosted India, Australia and Pakistan sincr 2018 and won each of those series’. Against India, they sealed a series win in the first two Tests itself before conceding the dead rubber. When Australia came down hard and beat them first up, they turned the series around with a stunning performance to eventually win 3-1, a series shrouded by the ball tampering saga. Pakistan were then swept aside 3-0 recently as the Proteas extended their home dominance.

Sri Lanka’s record in South Africa

Sri Lanka have played 13 Tests in South Africa and have won just one of them, losing eleven and drawing one game. It is pretty evident who is in control in this part of the World and with the tourists sporting a depleted squad, the hosts are more than likely to sweep this series as well.

Players in form

The openers are the men in form (since 2018) for either side with Dimuth Karunaratne doing well for Sri Lanka while Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram have been equally good for the Proteas. Kusal Mendis, a middle-order batsman, tops the run chart with over a 1000 runs at 41.76 and is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of runs. South Africa themselves haven’t found consistent runs from a couple of players and head into this series hoping to see their veteran batsmen find some form. Amla, du Plessis and de Kock average 29.45, 28.45 and 28.47 respectively since 2018 and need a big series.

In the bowling front, the danger man is Kagiso Rabada, who has 63 wickets in his last 12 Test matches at an average of 19.93. Dilruwan Perera is close on his heels with 52 wickets but most of them came at home and a listless show in New Zealand and Australia has seen him being axed for this series. Vernon Philander has 38 wickets in 10 Tests at 18.84 while Duanne Olivier is the big fast bowler in form after a spectacular outing against Pakistan where he picked up 24 wickets at an average of 14.70 including three five-wicket hauls.

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