South Africa hold the 0-1 advantage in their two-Test series against Sri Lanka as the sides head to Colombo for the second match.
Venue: Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo
Date: Thursday, July 24—Monday, July 28
Start time: 5:30 a.m. BST (10 a.m. local time)
TV and live stream: SuperSport (South Africa), PTV Sports (Pakistan), Ten Sports (Sri Lanka), Orbit Show Network (Middle East)
Weather: AccuWeather doesn't have good news on the weather front. There's a lot of dodgy weather and rain forecast for the next five days. There's not telling exactly how heavy those showers will be, though, and how much it will disrupt play.
South Africa need just a draw against Sri Lanka in order to reclaim the No. 1 ranking in Test cricket. After a convincing win in Galle and a solid outing as captain for Hashim Amla, it will be interesting to see whether South Africa continue their “risk to win” approach.
By cricket’s conventional standards, Amla’s declaration in the first innings was quite risky, or at least, quite bold. It was a refreshing approach and while it surprised a few, the focus will now be on whether this is something that will continue.
While South Africa’s seam bowlers were outstanding in Galle, Colombo is an even more challenging surface. Wickets will be hard to come by and South Africa will have to make a decision about whether to stick with an inconsistent Imran Tahir or be bold and hand rookie Dane Piedt a debut.
AB de Villiers has also suggested that, for the time being, he will not be keeping. Although he added that “in the future” he still views himself as a wicket-keeping batsman. It means that Quinton de Kock is likely to retain his place in the side as well as behind the stumps.
It is unlikely that there will be any other major changes to the South African side, barring injury. Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have withdrawn Dinesh Chandimal and replaced him with Niroshan Dickwella, as per ESPNCricinfo. Shaminda Eranga is also out because of a hand injury sustained in Galle also as per Cricinfo. The hosts have Dhammika Prasad and left-armer Chanaka Welegedara in the side as cover and Eranga's place is likely to be taken by either one of these two.
With the weather likely to intervene a fair bit, this could be an interesting Test especially since Sri Lanka must win in order to avoid a series defeat. South Africa can take things more steadily, but with the way Amla approached the first Test, that seems unlikely to happen.
Morne Morkel came good in the first Test. With probing lines and some good old aggressive fast bowling, he finally picked up the wickets he has so long deserved. Colombo is likely to be flatter and, depending on what happens with the spinner situation, Morkel will be tested heavily.
Sri Lanka's captain Angelo Mathews keeps growing in stature. He scores runs consistently and chips in with the ball when it matters. He needs his teammates to step up, though, and that's where his captaincy will be tested.
Quinton de Kock(w), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla(c), AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott, Wayne Parnell, Dane Piedt, Stiaan van Zyl
Upul Tharanga, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews(c), Dinesh Chandimal(w), Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Dhammika Prasad, Shaminda Eranga, Chanaka Welegedara, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Dilruwan Perera
All stats via ESPN Cricnfo StatsGuru, unless otherwise stated
Quotes obtained first hand.