Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st Test, Galle July 15, 2014

SL home might v SA away prowess

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Match facts

July 16-20, 2014
Start time 1000 local (0430GMT)

Play 04:41
Moonda: Amla unlikely to be affected by captaincy

Big picture

South Africa are stepping into unfamiliar territory in this series. Not only are they beginning life under a new Test captain - for the first time in more than a decade - they are also playing a Test in Sri Lanka after eight years. Their previous visit was well before their famous double-double of beating England and Australia away, and well before their current captain, Hashim Amla, the man he beat to the leadership role, AB de Villiers, and their premier fast bowler, Dale Steyn, established themselves as world-class players.

Those three are the only survivors from that 2006 visit, which was the last time South Africa lost a series on the road. Since then, they have put together an away record that is comparable with virtually any side to have played Test cricket.

It's not just South Africa's formidable record that is on the line. Since 2006, Sri Lanka have lost only one series at home. For South Africa, there is the added motivation of regaining the No. 1 spot, which they recently lost to Australia after nearly two years as undisputed kings of Test cricket. For Sri Lanka, there is the added motivation of giving one of their greats, Mahela Jayawardene, a fitting farewell as his Test career winds down.

The 2006 series is best remembered for two Jayawardene innings - first, the monumental 374 that included a world record 624-run stand with Kumar Sangakkara, and then the match-winning 123 that is perhaps his finest effort in Tests. Sri Lankan fans will hope for one more classic innings from him at one of his favourite grounds - he already has 2284 Test runs at Galle.

Form guide

Sri Lanka WDDWL
South Africa LWLWD

In the spotlight

has already made a blistering start to his ODI career - only Upul Tharanga had scored more centuries at the age of 21. The challenge is to take that form into Tests. With AB de Villiers set to play as a specialist batsman due to a hamstring problem, de Kock will have the added responsibility of keeping. If he proves safe behind the stumps, his chances of securing the currently vacant spot in the lower-middle order for the long run brighten considerably.

Sri Lanka's tour of England may have been a triumphant one, but not for Lahiru Thirimanne, who floundered during the Tests with only four runs in four innings, including a pair at Headingley. Like de Kock, Thirimanne too has more experience and runs in limited-overs matches and is still finding his way at Test level. Elevated to the vice-captaincy earlier this year, plenty is expected from Thirimanne.

Team news

Upul Tharanga is all set for a Test comeback after more than six years on the sidelines, and the rest of the Sri Lanka batting picks itself. The questions are over whom to pick as the second spinner. Dilruwan Perera is expected to partner Rangana Herath, though Ajantha Mendis also has an outside chance. Suranga Lakmal and Shaminda Eranga are likely to be the quicks, but Dhammika Prasad could get a look-in as well.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Kaushal Silva, 3 Kumar Sangakkara, 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt.), 7 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Rangana Herath, 10 Shaminda Eranga, 11 Suranga Lakmal

In the absence of the Graeme Smith, South Africa will pick Alviro Petersen and Dean Elgar as openers. Imran Tahir is set to play as the lone spinner, with JP Duminy as back-up. De Villiers is expected to bat at No. 5, with de Kock slotting in at No. 6.

South Africa: 1 Alviro Petersen, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 Hashim Amla (capt), 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Quinton de Kock (wk), 7 JP Duminy, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir.

Pitch and conditions

The pitch looks like a typical Galle surface, set to provide some assistance for the quicks on the first day but likely to encourage spinners after that. The peak temperature is likely to be in the late 20s but what is more of a worry is the showers expected. The forecast suggests light to heavy rain, but probably in the evenings.

Stats and trivia

  • Tharanga's return to Tests after more than six years is the third longest span between recalls for a Sri Lankan - behind Dulip Liyanage (between January 1994 and August 2001) and Malinga Bandara (between May 1998 and December 2005).
  • The bowling average of South African spinners in Sri Lanka is 53.34, their worst in any country.
  • Herath took 2 for 176 in his previous Test in Galle, but in the four Tests before that he has 36 wickets.

Quotes

"Changing the captain doesn't really matter because South Africa have still got great players in the team. They are a very tough team to beat. They lost to us in the past but they have played some really good cricket recently, so we can't be complacent."
Angelo Mathews

"The whole challenge of being captain, leading the team is an honour and a privilege so that is the most exciting thing."
Hashim Amla

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Thushaa on July 16, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    Poor crowd and poorer attraction towards the SA tour.. It will be a craker in the sunny galle.. But looks like SA dont have much of a travel support.

    And Down-south is a travellers paradise with the Sunny beaches and spicy, lip smacking Prawn, crab,sea-food coves... And the Proteas' will like the Sun and the Sand and the lovely welcoming people around.

  • katch47 on July 16, 2014, 4:12 GMT

    win the toss and bat, South Africa wins the toss so they have the upper hand so its not good news for Sri Lanka as all the SA's main batsmen are in superb form. I think SL has to fight hard to make a draw here

  • Manujer on July 16, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    Thirimanne MUST NOT be INCLUDED in the team. All the three spinners must be included as Dilruwan Perera can bat far better than Thirimanne.

  • Lion_Wallaby on July 16, 2014, 2:38 GMT

    @LAKingsFan: Have you ever expected SL win for your entire life??

  • LALITHKURUWITA on July 16, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    @Sinhaya,

    Yes all can bat bt scores not more than 5 runs.

  • on July 16, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    Tharanga will fail against SA seamers.

  • on July 16, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    how can a small nation (Sri Lanka) produces such a fine players?

  • on July 16, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    On paper it looks South Africa is stronger. Actually, SA has two quality spin bowling options, Tahir an attacking spin bowler and Duminy a steady blocker. I will put my money on SA and I also like Hashim Amla, so soft spoken, so humble, so calm and such a wonderful batsman to watch. I hope he succeeds as a Captain. AB without keeping responsibility would be just great!.

  • wazza85 on July 16, 2014, 0:52 GMT

    The problem with SL is consistency.They had a few good series and lost one in their own back yard. This shows how quickly SL can move from one end to the other. The bowling was pathetic, and batting except for Sanga was a worry. Well with the test series, if SL's batting and bowling does not work in a competitive manna.I don't see SL winning the series or the matter of fact probably drawing it.

  • on July 16, 2014, 0:22 GMT

    They should've sent Piedt to the South Africa A squad so that he'd get some experience rather than just sit on the sidelines. I don't see the point of bringing someone into the squad when you know that your not going to use that someone. It's good to see that they have faith in Petersen, but I don't think can expect to keep his place if he isn't scoring the fifties he was asked to provide.

  • Thushaa on July 16, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    Poor crowd and poorer attraction towards the SA tour.. It will be a craker in the sunny galle.. But looks like SA dont have much of a travel support.

    And Down-south is a travellers paradise with the Sunny beaches and spicy, lip smacking Prawn, crab,sea-food coves... And the Proteas' will like the Sun and the Sand and the lovely welcoming people around.

  • katch47 on July 16, 2014, 4:12 GMT

    win the toss and bat, South Africa wins the toss so they have the upper hand so its not good news for Sri Lanka as all the SA's main batsmen are in superb form. I think SL has to fight hard to make a draw here

  • Manujer on July 16, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    Thirimanne MUST NOT be INCLUDED in the team. All the three spinners must be included as Dilruwan Perera can bat far better than Thirimanne.

  • Lion_Wallaby on July 16, 2014, 2:38 GMT

    @LAKingsFan: Have you ever expected SL win for your entire life??

  • LALITHKURUWITA on July 16, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    @Sinhaya,

    Yes all can bat bt scores not more than 5 runs.

  • on July 16, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    Tharanga will fail against SA seamers.

  • on July 16, 2014, 2:06 GMT

    how can a small nation (Sri Lanka) produces such a fine players?

  • on July 16, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    On paper it looks South Africa is stronger. Actually, SA has two quality spin bowling options, Tahir an attacking spin bowler and Duminy a steady blocker. I will put my money on SA and I also like Hashim Amla, so soft spoken, so humble, so calm and such a wonderful batsman to watch. I hope he succeeds as a Captain. AB without keeping responsibility would be just great!.

  • wazza85 on July 16, 2014, 0:52 GMT

    The problem with SL is consistency.They had a few good series and lost one in their own back yard. This shows how quickly SL can move from one end to the other. The bowling was pathetic, and batting except for Sanga was a worry. Well with the test series, if SL's batting and bowling does not work in a competitive manna.I don't see SL winning the series or the matter of fact probably drawing it.

  • on July 16, 2014, 0:22 GMT

    They should've sent Piedt to the South Africa A squad so that he'd get some experience rather than just sit on the sidelines. I don't see the point of bringing someone into the squad when you know that your not going to use that someone. It's good to see that they have faith in Petersen, but I don't think can expect to keep his place if he isn't scoring the fifties he was asked to provide.

  • on July 15, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    Selecting Taranga ahead of Dimuthu is good movement. Both team having great players. Home advantage is with SL. SA having some experiences in srilankan conditions during ODI series. Galle usually sping friendly wicket so Herath or Thahir can do lot regarding their team. Wish rain away to see good competition. Good luck both teams.

  • TeamSelector on July 15, 2014, 22:43 GMT

    The Saffers batting line up is all messed up. It should be as follows:- 1-Alviro 2-Elgar 3-Amla 4-AB 5-Faf 6-Duminy 7-Quinton 8-Philander 9-Steyn 10-Morkel 11-Tahir. I am not too keen on Tahir's inclusion in the team. Who is the Proteas next frontline spinner?

  • aby_97 on July 15, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    De Kock and Alviro should open with Elgar coming in at No.6 or N0.7. This is Test cricket, SO your best players should play at the top.And considering De Kock's good form as an opener, he has to open to give an aggressive start. Hashim Amla should bat where he has batted the most - No.4. AB de villiers at No.5 would be very good with Du Plessis and Duminy following them.

  • LAKINGSFAN on July 15, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    If SL can draw one of the test matches that itself is great. I don't see SL winning any tests against SA. Good luck,SA.

  • on July 15, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    In my own opinion Amla should bat at #3, as he always adds a grip if things spiral our of control, so for all our sakes lets just hope that this is nothing other than probable, and He will bat at his spot.. I am expecting a good test but looking at the SL batting order I don't perceive much threat whereas the SA side have a very solid batting line up because from #1 to #7 are guys who can take the game away as they have done so in the Past against other oppositions..

  • Tapcan19 on July 15, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    A great move by Domingo to call for Quinton De Cock ahead of Van Zyl as De Cock's top class form continues..Overaly a great squad to kick of the Post Smith Era

  • Sinhaya on July 15, 2014, 15:04 GMT

    I think we must play Prasad instead of Lakmal as he can bat. In that manner, all of our XI can bat.

  • Kinguru007. on July 15, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    Lets hope it's not going to be one of those flat run feast track. I think SA taking a risk by not playing a second front line spinner. Duminy can get some turn but not as much as a lead spinner.

  • YsaKaru on July 15, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    hopefully no more rains....GOOD LUCK LIONS!!!

  • MIMFarhan on July 15, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    Great chance for Tharanga ti proof once again his batting ability in top of the order in test cricket. All the best Tharanga

  • on July 15, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    SA Batting order should be 1 Alviro Petersen, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla (capt) 4 JP Duminy 5. AB de Villiers, 6. Faf du Plessis, 7. Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir.

  • Proteas_Supporter on July 15, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    This would be my SA XI if I was the selector.

    Elgar - Van Zyl - Amla - Faf - AB - JP - QDK - Philander - Steyn - Morkel - Tahir

    but to my frustration, Alviro will play. All the best for Amla on his first assignment!

  • stumpedlloyd on July 15, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    Too bad that this in only a two-test series and that one of the tests is being played on the parking lot that is the SSC.

  • on July 15, 2014, 14:04 GMT

    Cannot understand now that AB has shed the gloves, that he is not batting at #4, why move Amla down one to 4, when he is a master at #3?

    Duplessis should bat 5, with Amla at #3 and AB at #4 IMHO

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  • on July 15, 2014, 14:04 GMT

    Cannot understand now that AB has shed the gloves, that he is not batting at #4, why move Amla down one to 4, when he is a master at #3?

    Duplessis should bat 5, with Amla at #3 and AB at #4 IMHO

  • stumpedlloyd on July 15, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    Too bad that this in only a two-test series and that one of the tests is being played on the parking lot that is the SSC.

  • Proteas_Supporter on July 15, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    This would be my SA XI if I was the selector.

    Elgar - Van Zyl - Amla - Faf - AB - JP - QDK - Philander - Steyn - Morkel - Tahir

    but to my frustration, Alviro will play. All the best for Amla on his first assignment!

  • on July 15, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    SA Batting order should be 1 Alviro Petersen, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Hashim Amla (capt) 4 JP Duminy 5. AB de Villiers, 6. Faf du Plessis, 7. Quinton de Kock (wk), 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir.

  • MIMFarhan on July 15, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    Great chance for Tharanga ti proof once again his batting ability in top of the order in test cricket. All the best Tharanga

  • YsaKaru on July 15, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    hopefully no more rains....GOOD LUCK LIONS!!!

  • Kinguru007. on July 15, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    Lets hope it's not going to be one of those flat run feast track. I think SA taking a risk by not playing a second front line spinner. Duminy can get some turn but not as much as a lead spinner.

  • Sinhaya on July 15, 2014, 15:04 GMT

    I think we must play Prasad instead of Lakmal as he can bat. In that manner, all of our XI can bat.

  • Tapcan19 on July 15, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    A great move by Domingo to call for Quinton De Cock ahead of Van Zyl as De Cock's top class form continues..Overaly a great squad to kick of the Post Smith Era

  • on July 15, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    In my own opinion Amla should bat at #3, as he always adds a grip if things spiral our of control, so for all our sakes lets just hope that this is nothing other than probable, and He will bat at his spot.. I am expecting a good test but looking at the SL batting order I don't perceive much threat whereas the SA side have a very solid batting line up because from #1 to #7 are guys who can take the game away as they have done so in the Past against other oppositions..