The Proteas hope to avoid execution by spin

The Proteas would have known what awaited them in Sri Lanka long before they left but will hope that the trial by spin doesn’t turn into an execution in Colombo.

The touring side demonstrated so little aptitude against the turning ball that one might suggest any improvement could catch Sri Lanka off-guard.

Sri Lanka head into the decider knowing their captain, coach and manager will take no part in the Test series and miss four ODIs after the ICC announced punishments for the trio during the first Test.

They will however be brimming with confidence after destroying the Proteas in Galle under the leadership of Suranga Lakmal.

This may yet be Rangana Herath’s final Test for Sri Lanka and he will be keen to go out on a high with wickets and a win under the belt.

The Proteas meanwhile will have to scrap for every inch of ground in this Test if they are to come away with anything from the series.

The bowlers did a decent enough job in Galle but allowing the final two wickets to add over a hundred runs gave Sri Lanka an edge they would not surrender. The Proteas may sacrifice a bowler to shore up the batting with allrounder Vernon Philander the likely victim of the axe.

The spinning pair of Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj improved throughout the Galle Test and will look to make a bigger impact in Colombo while Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn may have to take on a heavier workload should an extra batsman work his way into the lineup.

Sri Lanka have no real reason to change a winning formula though there are a few batsmen who could use some runs under their belt.

The Proteas feel that there frailty against spin is largely a mental block but one thing is clear, they will need to play it well in Colombo with Sri Lanka set to employ a battery of tweakers.

The second Test gets underway at the Sinhalese Sports Club at 05:30 BST (06:30 SAST).