First Test Preview: SA v Sri Lanka
South Africa are riding a wave of momentum from their incredible series win down under and looking forward to the first series with Faf du Plessis as full time skipper.
Almost all of the South African top order have fired recently barring Hashim Amla who had a tough tour to Australia.
Sri Lanka enjoyed a successful tour to Zimbabwe earlier this year but will face a sterner Test from their Southern African neighbours.
They welcome back stalwarts skipper Angelo Mathews and vice captain Dinesh Chandimal and look to have an in-form batting line-up.
This series will largely be about how well Sri Lanka can deal with the South African pace attack and if their bowlers can adjust to the conditions and keep taking wickets.
The first Test at St George’s Park represents probably the best chance for Sri Lanka to get the jump on the Proteas at the traditionally slower venue.
The Proteas have an imposing batting lineup but will look to Faf du Plessis to lead them should they get into trouble while Quinton de Kock has provided plenty of runs down the order.
Vernon Philander will be expected to lead the attack for the hosts in the absence of Dale Steyn.
Dinesh Chandimal has been among Sri Lanka’s most consistent batsmen and his return will add some solidity to a young batting lineup.
In PE Rangana Herath could play a big role, the crafty spinner knows how to bowl all over the world and could trouble the Saffas at the death of the Test.
Last five head-to-head results
2014 Second Test: Drawn in Colombo
2014 First Test: South Africa won by 153 runs in Galle
2012 Third Test: South Africa won by ten wickets in Cape Town
2011 Second Test: Sri Lanka won by 208 runs in Durban
2011 First Test: South Africa won by an innings and 81 runs in Centurion
Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Sri Lanka squad: Angelo Mathews (capt.), Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Dhananjaya de Silva, Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Kumara, Vikum Sanjaya, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath
Dates: 26 – 30 December
Morning session: 09:30-11:30 (11:30-13:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:10-14:10 (14:10-16:10 GMT)
Evening session: 14:30-16:30 (16:30-18:30 GMT)
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Bruce Oxenford
TV Umpire: Rod Tucker
Match Referee: David Boon
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