South Africa will host Sri Lanka in the Boxing-Day Test at Centurion to mark the first WTC assignment for both sides since the COVID outbreak.
Match Timings: Dec 26, 1:30 PM IST
After facing so many issues due to COVID-19, South Africa will continue its World Test Championship campaign with the opening Test against Sri Lanka. All the South African players tested negative ahead of the Test, but its two players have withdrawn from the squad. Beuran Hendricks and Keegan Petersen will not be a part of the Test series. Hendricks was supposed to play as the third seamer in the absence of Rabada. He made his debut last summer and claimed a 5-wicket haul in 2nd innings. Proteas can now handover the Test cap to Glenton Stuurman, Migael Pretorius, or Lutho Sipamla. Sipamla has appeared in white-ball matches earlier, so he would be the first choice in playing XI.
Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje will now have a huge responsibility to defend 120 points at home this summer. In the absence of Peterson, South Africa will pick one of Sarel Erwee, Raynard van Tonder or Kyle Verreynne for now. The hosts are likely to go ahead with two debutants on Boxing-Day. De Kock will lead the side in the longest format for the first time, and he is now the skipper of all formats. The batting unit will rely on experienced Faf, Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, and Dean Elgar. Keshav Maharaj will take the role of the spinner after impressive outings in recent times.
South Africa has already been out of the finals in World Test Championship, winning just one match out of seven. Last summer, they were defeated by England 3-1 despite winning the opening Test in Centurion. After this series, Proteas will travel to Pakistan for two more Tests, and if they earn these 240 points, they can better its Test rankings only. In the previous summer, De Kock was the leading run-scorer in the series with 380 runs, and Anrich Nortje grabbed the highest 18 wickets. Rabada’s absence will test Nortrje and Ngidi’s pace. South Africa won its previous Test on this ground, and De Kock would be eager to start his Test captaincy on a winning note.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will appear in international cricket after a big gap of 10 months, but most of the players had good practice after the first edition of the SL T20 League. Sri Lanka won the Test series in South Africa in 2019-20 to become the first Asian side to achieve this milestone. They have retained its key players from the last winning squad. Angelo Mathews has been ruled out of the tournament due to a hamstring injury. Legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga got the reward of his performance in the SL T20 League with the Test call-up, and Lakshan Sandakan has been dropped.
From the previous seam attack, they kept Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, and Asitha Fernando in the main squad. Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Oshada Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, and Dhananjaya de Silva were part of the historic series win in 2019-20, and they would be seen in the first Test as well. Dinesh Chandimal and Dasun Shanaka have also been recalled for the Tests. Minod Bhanuka and Santhush Gunatilake are the two newcomers in this side, but there is no chance of seeing a Test debut from Sri Lanka. Lasith Embuldeniya was also taken as the left-arm spinner, but Sri Lanka might try Hasaranga and Dilruwan Perera in the final playing XI.
SuperSport Park, Centurion, is a bouncy track, and it offers plenty of help to seamers. On the final fourth and fifth, we may expect some spin. Batting would be easier later the match progress.
The centurion weather is partly cloudy, and there is slight rain predicted on the last four days. The temperature will be around 28 degrees.
Quinton de Kock (c), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Sarel Erwee/Raynard van Tonder/Kyle Verreynne, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje, Glenton Stuurman/Migael Pretorius/Lutho Sipamla, Keshav Maharaj
Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Kusal Mendis/Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal/Niroshan Dickwella (wk),Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Asitha Fernando/Suranga Lakmal
WTC 2019-21 – M: 7, Runs: 536, Avg: 38.28
Last summer (vs. ENG) – M: 4, Runs: 380, Avg: 47.50
Last summer (vs. ENG) – M: 4, Wickets: 18, Avg: 27.11
WTC 2019-21 – M: 4, Runs: 347, Avg: 49.57
Domestic season 2020 – M: 8, Runs: 1027, Avg: 93.36
SL T20 League 2020 – M: 9, Runs: 246, Avg: 41