South African coach Mark Boucher believes his team will be able to beat Sri Lanka in the two-Test series starting Saturday at SuperSport Park in Centurion. “We are in a reconstruction phase and we have a few youngsters, but we are playing in conditions that suit us better than the opposition,” Boucher said Friday.
“If we hit our tires and carry out the plans we’ve put in place, I think we’ll give ourselves a good chance of winning against them.”
Sri Lanka have won their most recent four Tests against South Africa, including a shocking 2-0 series win during their journey two seasons ago.
“I haven’t looked at it much,” said Boucher of the 2018/19 series, “but it’s something we can channel in our favor. We can’t just participate as a team.”
South Africa has a strong record with Centurion, including victories in all four previous tests against Sri Lanka at the venue.
Boucher said there were “some hiccups” with fast bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Glenton Stuurman delaying the final selection of a playing elf.
Both got through intensive training on Thursday with no apparent problems, but Boucher said they should be assessed after a night’s sleep.
Sri Lanka has an injury too, with Suranga Lakmal tending a hamstring strain. Lakmal was described earlier this week by coach Mickey Arthur as “the leader of our attack”.
Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne told reporters on Thursday that he believed his team could rival South Africa in the quality of their pace of bowling. “If you look at the pace, we are about right,” he said.
“I think the batsmen will make the difference. Whoever has the better hitting side has a good chance of winning the series.”
Both teams reside at a country club near Pretoria, a short drive from the testing sites in Centurion and Johannesburg.
With a sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in South Africa, both tests will be played without spectators.
Neither side has played a redball international since January, when South Africa finished 3-1 losers in a home series against England, while Sri Lanka won a series of two games 1-0 in Zimbabwe.
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