Sri Lanka should be happy with the news that skipper Angelo Mathews has recovered from his injuries and expects to bowl during the team’s tour of South Africa.
Mathews has led from the front mostly with the bat and remains as one of the key players in this side which is still going through a period of transition. Mathews has expressed his desire to bowl more in South Africa where the islanders are expected to begin with the three-day warm-up game at Potchefstroom.
Cricket is a taxing game now and players have to have the services of qualified masseurs and training if they are to comeback after injury. Mathews is not the only player to return into the side. Dinesh Chandimal is another high-profile cricketer who marks a return to national squad that is at present touring South Africa.
The pitches in South Africa favour fast bowlers. This could turn out to be the hunting ground for a bowler like Mathews who bowls best in conditions like in South Africa where the ball seems and slightly swings.
Sri Lanka’s pace battery is loaded this time with the inclusion of players in the likes of Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal. There is also newcomer Vicum Sanjaya who might be tried out during the three Tests matches that form the large part of the tour itinerary.
Sri Lanka’s batting will have to come up against pace and seam in South Africa. The selectors naming Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva in the squad means they are most likely to open batting for Sri Lanka. The promising Kusal Mendis is expected to bat at number three and deliver like in the past few series. After Mathews and Chandimal, the Sri Lankan batting runs deep with Dananjaya de Silva, Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera quite capable of wagging the tail.
South Africa definitely enjoys the benefit of playing on home turf. The host team is led by Faf du Plessis and is loaded with a bunch of promising cricketers. The South African captain has already refused to undermine the visiting Sri Lankans. Plessis has been quoted in saying that Sri Lanka is a quality cricket team.
Plessis bats at number five and expects the inform batsmen to deliver during this series. Some of the other promising players in the South African side named to do battle against Sri Lanka are Wayne Parnell, J.P. Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma, to name a few. The side will be sans Morkel, Dale Steyn, Rilee Rossouw (all injured) and Tabraiz Shamsi.
Sri Lanka are expected to play three Test matches during this series which is expected to go on till February 10. The first Test is scheduled to begin at Port Elizabeth on December 26 and will conclude on December 30. The second Test will be played from January 2-6 in Cape Town. The third Test will be worked off in Johannesburg from January 12 -16.
The three Test matches will be followed by three T/20 internationals and five one day internationals.
The last time Sri Lanka featured in the African continent was in November this year when they played against Zimbabwe in a Test and later in a tri- series which also featured the West Indies. Sri Lanka beat Zimbabwe in the Test series and brought home the Achilleion Cup.
Sri Lanka were sans their stars Mathews and Chandimal, but managed to beat the host team comfortably in the Test series.
• Sri Lanka squad to South Africa- Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Rangana Herath, Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Kaushal Silva, Dushmantha Chameera, Vikum Sanjaya and Upul Tharanga.