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HomeCricketSri Lanka v South Africa 1st Test Preview

Sri Lanka v South Africa 1st Test Preview



Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st Test Preview Cricket Blog Cricket Preview

Ah, the post AB de Villiers era for South Africa. I was dreading you. So too many cricket fans around the world, except probably Sri Lankans, who are South Africa’s first assignment after the great man’s retirement.

It’s always exciting to see a non-Asian team touring an Asian nation for a Test series, as it makes for a compelling contest. Can the tourists effectively deal with the foreign conditions to pick up a Test victory? It’s incredibly difficult, as most non-Asian teams have found out over the last 5-10 years, but South Africa have a great opportunity to repeat their 2014 success in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka would be buoyed by their series-leveling effort in the West Indies recently. It was backs-against-the-wall stuff. In fact, their form since the 9-0 annihilation against India last year has been pretty good, winning 2-0 v Pakistan in the UAE, drawing two Tests in India, beating Bangladesh away, and drawing with West Indies with plenty of injury and suspension distractions. Can they push South Africa to the limit, too?

Life after AB de Villiers is here for South Africa. Still, they have the quality to do well here, with their batting line up possessing the patience to do well in these conditions, and the bowling line up one of the best in the world. With Dale Steyn returning the ground where he took 9/99 four years ago, to likely partner Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander, South Africa have a great mix of spin and reverse swing to trouble Sri Lanka. It will be interesting to see how they go.

But please, a message to both sides. NO BALL TAMPERING. Cheers.

Dinesh Chandimal has been excellent, but he is doubtful

Key to a Sri Lanka win

There is a strong likelihood that South Africa will go into the first Test with six specialist batsmen. 
This is an opportunity for Sri Lanka, with the top of six of South Africa possessing 48 Tests worth of experience in Asia. Take Hashim Amla out of the equation and it’s just 25.
A big question will be whether their spinners can get a hold of the South African batting. What makes this contest even more interesting is that if Sri Lanka produce a dry, rank turner, it could very well work against them, with South Africa possessing Keshav Maharaj and wonderful exponents of reverse swing. So, Sri Lanka’s spinners need to be accurate, smart and skillful.
Also, Sri Lanka’s batting looked quite fragile in the West Indies. Against the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn and Keshav Maharaj, the batsmen must hold their own. Which players in the top six can go big?

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Key to a South Africa win

Six specialist batsmen represents an opportunity for Sri Lanka, but so too the Proteas.
Each batsman in that top six has extra responsibility on his shoulders, and overcoming the humid, subcontinent conditions is sure to be challenge. Can Aiden Markram build on his great series against Australia? Can Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla wear the bowlers down? What can Faf du Plessis deliver, after a very tough time of things in his last tour to the subcontinent in 2015? 
The lack of experience in the subcontinent needs to be overcome by patient, resilient batting.
But, if South Africa’s batting doesn’t quite go to plan, the have an excellent attack to turn to, which includes the returning Dale Steyn and number one Test bowler Kagiso Rabada. Keshav Maharaj is also one to watch out for on his first tour of the subcontinent, after a very promising start to his career.
The thing is – the Proteas can’t leave too much for their bowling to do.

Possible teams

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal is very doubtful to play, but Angelo Mathews returns for Sri Lanka. Dimuth Karunaratne is also back in the squad, and could return. Rangana Herath has hinted he will finish his career in November, so he will be hoping for a big game.

Sri Lanka possible XI: 1. Dimuth Karunaratne, 2. Danushka Gunathilaka, 3. Dhananjaya de Silva, 4. Kusal Mendis, 5. Angelo Mathews, 6. Kusal Perera, 7. Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8. Rangana Herath, 9. Dulruwan Perera, 10. Suranga Lakmal, 11. Lahiru Kumara

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson has spoken of his desire to have three pacers. This means Philander will probably bat at seven, with Lungi Ngidi to sit out with Dale Steyn to play. Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi could be the spin duo, but Shamsi needs to overcome the curse of the South Africa Test wristspinner.

South Africa possible XI: 1. Dean Elgar, 2. Aiden Markram, 3. Hashim Amla, 4. Faf du Plessis (c), 5. Temba Bavuma, 6. Quinton de Kock (wk), 7. Vernon Philander, 8. Keshav Maharaj, 9. Dale Steyn, 10. Kagiso Rabada, 11. Tabraiz Shamsi

Stats and Facts:

  • South Africa’s last tour of Sri Lanka was in 2014. It was also a two-Test series, which the Proteas won 1-0.
  • Dale Steyn took 9/99 in his last visit to Galle, in 2014.
  • Sri Lanka have won four, drawn four and lost just two of their last ten Tests. 
  • Of the probable South Africa XI, three (Markram, Maharaj, Shamsi) have never played a Test in Asia.
  • Since South Africa’s readmission to Test cricket in 1992, they have taken the least number of wickets by spin out of any nation (Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland excluded).


With rain a common occurrence in Galle in July, this match could sadly be affected. If we get a result, I’m confident it will be in favour of South Africa, but I will predict a draw.

PS you can enjoy the cricket today with discounted food below!

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Coorey
Charbel is the owner & founder of, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at

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