Sunday 22nd July, 2018
26.9
26 ℃ | 29 ℃Colombo
sri-lanka-depleted-by-chandimal-absence-in-opening-test

Sri Lanka: WDLWD

South Africa: WWWLL

In the spotlight

With 27 Tests and three daddy-hundreds (176 against Australia, 194 and 196 against Bangladesh) to his name, Kusal Mendis has emerged as one of Sri Lanka's most accomplished young batsmen, and will want to stand up to a much-vaunted South African attack. Kusal was Sri Lanka's top-scorer on their tour of the West Indies, three runs behind the overall leader Shane Dowrich, and his 285 runs included a century and a half-century. He will hope to carry that form into the South Africa series.

All eyes will be on Dale Steyn, who is expected to make his return after more than seven months on the sidelines with a heel injury. Steyn made a successful return to fitness for Hampshire, and though he was "rusty" on return to the national camp, Ottis Gibson is clearly excited to have him as part of the artillery. As long as Steyn can stay on the park, he is all but guaranteed a place in the starting XI, which means he could finally complete his long quest to break the South African wicket-takers' record. But, of course, that's not all he is after. Steyn would like to play at least another full season and will want to show he still has plenty to offer.

Team news

South Africa are likely to go for a seven-batsmen, three-seamer and one spinner combination which will see Temba Bavuma slot in at No.4, replacing de Villiers, and Theunis de Bruyn at No.6. Lungi Ngidi will miss out for now.

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

Rangana Herath has recovered from a split webbing in his hand and should take his place in the XI, and Sri Lanka will need to decide which of Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya or Lakshan Sandakan will partner him. Suranga Lakmal is likely to captain in Chandimal's absence.

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

Pitch and conditions

Sprinklings of rain have been around in the build-up to the match, for a few hours each day for the last week, which could mean an interrupted Test on a pitch that has not dried out as much as the groundstaff would have hoped. For the hosts, that means they will have to wait for enough sunshine to dry the surface out before it will offer the turn they want. South Africa will welcome that news, and will hope their quicks can be more effective early on. Temperatures will nudge towards 30 degrees Celsius with humidity of around 90% on each of the five days.

Stats and trivia

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