A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

South Africa vs. Sri Lanka, Second Test: Preview

Posted on December 24, 2011 by in Tests

Sri Lanka have never won a Test match in South Africa, and after the events of last week at Centurion it looks like they may have to wait a while longer yet to rectify that fairly embarrassing stat. Their one hope to fall back on is the only time they have ever avoided defeat was a draw in Durban, the stage for their latest, probably fruitless, attempt at victory, just over a decade ago.

The Home Team

South Africa dominated Centurion from start to finish, and runs for Mark Boucher were especially welcome as he has been under pressure in recent months. Despite that, there are still a few members of the team who haven’t quite nailed down their place yet; the jury is still out on Jacques Rudolph as an opener, while Ashwell Prince needs a big score and is probably the most vulnerable at the moment. Imran Tahir, given such big-billing over the past year, hasn’t made the impact he would have wanted either, and given how weak he is with the bat and in the field he needs to take wickets or Paul Harris may come back into the reckoning. The Proteas have four Tests before they reach England next summer, they will want these creases ironed out before they roll up at Lord’s in August.

The hosts were dealt an injury scare on Christmas Eve as Vernon Philander, who has enjoyed one of the great introductions to Test cricket, pulled up with a knee complaint in the nets. Were he not to make it, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, the forgotten man of South African cricket, would replace him, making the tail almost farcically long in the process. As it is, reports coming out of Durban are that Philander will be fit for Boxing Day, meaning the starting XI will be the same as it has all winter.

Imran Tahir suddenly realises where all those mince pies he left out for Santa have gone

The Away Team

SuperSport Park was a disaster from start to finish for the tourists, as their batting, supposedly their strongest suit, fell to pieces twice to set up a big innings win for South Africa, and it’s difficult to see any other outcome this time around. Whilst everyone knew they would struggle without the likes of Murali and Chaminda Vaas, the most concerning aspect of their recent troubles has been how often they have failed to put runs on the board. With a bowling attack this weak, it’s vitally important they consistently give them something to bowl at, but even their two big guns – Mahela Jawayardene and Kumar Sangakkara – have been unable to stop the rot.

In terms of team selection, it seems as if Dinesh Chandimal will take the ‘keeper’s gloves ahead of Kaushal Silva, who looked hopelessly out of his depth last week. Chandimal is a promising batsman, but giving him the gloves would be nothing more than a stop-gap until Prasanna Jayawardene returns from injury. It smacks slightly of a desperate attempt to strengthen the top order, as it’s difficult to see Chandimal outperforming Silva behind the stumps. That aside, the team is likely to be unchanged, giving this bowling unit the chance to make up for their rather disappointing efforts in the First Test.

The 51allout Prediction

Even after Santa has finished the two day whisky-drinking binge he calls ‘delivering presents’, he could call this. England ‘B’ by a distance.

No Comments

Post a Comment