South Africa and Sri Lanka will end a long Covid-induced hiatus from Test cricket when the first of two Test World Cup matches kicks off Saturday at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Neither side has played a redball international since January, when South Africa lost 3-1 in a home series against England, with Sri Lanka winning a biweekly series 1-0 in Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka can appeal to most of the players who shocked the Proteas by winning both tests on their previous tour of South Africa two seasons ago. On paper, South Africa is weaker than in that previous series with their very fast bowling attack from Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Duanne Olivier who went missing due to retirement, injury or, in the case of Olivier, the pull of the British. lb.
The Sri Lanka series also marked the end of batsman Hashim Amla’s distinguished testing career.
The captaincy has changed and Faf du Plessis has resigned, although he remains as a player.
Wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock, South Africa’s leading test batsman last season, has accepted what amounts to a nurturing role only for the 2020/21 season.
De Kock’s appointment is reminiscent of Dimuth Karunaratne, the Sri Lankan opening batsman who was billed as a stand-in captain for the 2018/19 tour, but who tried so hard to keep his players a positive. attitude. has remained at the helm.
Conditions will differ significantly, however, with the matches played on the fast, resilient fields of Centurion and Johannesburg rather than the slower coastal surfaces in Durban and Port Elizabeth, where Sri Lanka prevailed last time.
Despite having a completely different fast bowling attack, South Africa’s bowlers will be a tough challenge for the visiting batsmen.
Anrich Nortje is one of the fastest bowlers in the world, while Lungi Ngidi is back in shape after a series of injuries.
Glenton Stuurman could win a first cap as a like-for-like replacement for the nagging hit Philander.
Key to Sri Lanka is the expected return of Kusal Perera.
The left-handed played a career-defining innings when he failed to play 153 in the first Test in Durban on the previous tour, turning what appeared likely to be a routine South African win into a thrilling one-wicket victory for the tourists. with an unbeaten final wicket score of 78 with Vishwa Fernando.
For those innings, Perera had a Test batting average of less than 30. He was unable to maintain his form in Durban and was dropped after a bad run against New Zealand later in 2019.
South Africa: Quinton de Kock (captain, wkt), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Dwaine Pretorius or Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Glenton Stuurman, Lungi Ngidi.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (Captain), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wkt), Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Embuldeniya, plus two from Vishwa Fernando, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Rajitha ,.
Referees: Marais Erasmus, Adrian Holdstock (both RSA)
TV referee: Allahudien Paleker (RSA)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)
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