Sri Lanka vs South Africa: Home conditions to spur Sri Lankan charge over Proteas

Full-strength hosts set to bloom on favourable pitches
South African cricket captain Faf du Plessis and Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal shake hands in Colombo. (LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st Test Match Preview & Betting Tips


Sri Lanka host South Africa in the 1st Test of the two-match series in Galle from Thursday July 12. The hosts are coming off a hard-fought drawn series in West Indies that was achieved with a weakened squad. With their regulars set to return, Sri Lanka will be confident of starting on a positive note.

Sri Lanka


The hosts did exceptionally well to draw the controversial three-Test series against West Indies 1-1. Regular captain Dinesh Chandimal was suspended for the 3rd Test but the Islanders fought back to win by four wickets.

Now in familiar conditions and a chance to field a full-strength team, Sri Lanka will hope for continuity in results. However, the availability of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath – often their messiah in these conditions –  is in doubt subject to a fitness test.

Kusal Mendis has been in cracking form this year with 556 runs in 9 innings at an average of 61.77. That is well above his career average and the way he bounced back after being dropped late last year is a considerable achievement. 

Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis tipped to continue his solid form with the bat. (RANDY BROOKS/AFP/Getty Images)

South Africa


The last Test series for South Africa will not be forgotten in a hurry by the cricketing world. The ball-tampering saga hogged the headlines for all the wrong reasons as South Africa defeated Australia 3-1 at home in an ill-tempered series.

The visitors played out a draw in the two-day practice match against Sri Lanka Board Presidents XI in their lone warm-up before this series. While the fast bowlers struggled for impact, left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi warmed up with a 5/45 haul.

South Africa's batting was more satisfying as key batsmen Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, and Faf du Plessis all notched up half-centuries, Dean Elgar also getting a decent hit out in the middle.

Match Up


In their last series South Africa thrashed Sri Lanka 3-0 at home. The last series in Sri Lanka was in 2014 when South Africa stonewalled the Lankan attack to win the two-match series 1-0.

Rangana Herath loves this ground and should be itching to prove his fitness. Dinesh Chandimal’s availability is also subject to an ICC hearing.

South Africa are set to welcome back ace bowler Dale Steyn who has fond memories of Galle, having won the Test in 2014 with a nine-wicket haul. South Africa have already indicated that they will take the field with three pacers which may not be entirely convincing in their quest for success.

Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath could be an important player against South Africa in the first Test match in Galle. (LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Key Statistics


  • Sri Lanka have won 7 of their last 11 home Tests.
  • Sri Lanka have won 4 of their last 5 Tests in Galle.
  • Sri Lanka have won 3 of their last 5 home Tests against South Africa.
  • Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis has 4 50+ scores in 9 innings in 2018.
  • Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath has 94 wickets in 17 Tests in Galle.
  • South Africa have lost 3 of their last 4 away Tests.

Verdict


Even in the absence of Rangana Herath and Dinesh Chandimal, Sri Lanka have enough in their tank to deflate South Africa in home conditions. With Kusal Mendis showing a hunger for runs, the hosts can ride on his performances and start with a win.

Best Bet: Sri Lanka to Win @ 4.50
Top Sri Lanka Batsman: Kusal Mendis @ 5.00
Match Special: Rangana Herath Top Sri Lanka Bowler & Sri Lanka win @ 11.00
Freetips staff 14 July 2018

Test Match Cricket Previews & Tips