Sri Lanka are scheduled to tour South Africa between February 13 and March 24 to play two tests, five one-day internationals and three T20 internationals. The visitors will commence their tour with the test series that gets underway from February 13 in Durban. The tests will be followed by the ODI series that will be played between March 3 and 16. Ahead of the ODI series, Sri Lanka will also play a 50-over practice match against South African Invitation XI in Benoni on February 28. The T20I series will begin on March 19 in Cape Town and conclude on March 24 in Johannesburg.
Read on for team previews, betting odds, betting tips and predictions for Sri Lanka tour of South Africa 2019...
South Africa have named a 14-man squad for the upcoming test series against Sri Lanka. The Proteas have included young uncapped allrounder Wiaan Mulder in their squad and he is the only addition to the South African test side that recently secured a 3-0 clean sweep over Pakistan. Pace bowler Lungi Ngidi has recovered from his knee injury but he has not been picked as the hosts do not want to risk him with the World Cup not too far from now.
South Africa have shown impressive form across all formats in recent times. They have won five of their last six test series as well as five of their last six ODI series. They have been dominant in the shortest format too with four wins in their last six T20I series. The Proteas recently defeated Pakistan at home in all the three formats of the game. After a 3-0 whitewash in the tests, the hosts sealed a 3-2 win in the ODIs before taking the T20I series 2-1 as well.
The hosts will bank on the likes of Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram in terms of batting in the test series. de Kock was the leading run-getter in the previous home test series against Pakistan where he scored 251 runs at an average of 62.75. Amla, Markram and Elgar are all amongst the top ten test batsmen in the world. Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Duanne Olivier will pose a serious threat to the Sri Lankan batsmen. Rabada is the world's No. 1 test bowler and Philander is ranked fourth while Olivier took 24 wickets against Pakistan to finish as the best bowler in the test series.
Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne has taken over the test captaincy from Dinesh Chandimal who has been dropped from the team owing to his poor run of form. Roshen Silva and off-spinner Dilruwan Perera are the others to have been axed. Kaushal Silva and Milinda Siriwardana, meanwhile, have made a return to the test side while Angelo Mathews continues to remain unavailable due to the hamstring injury he had picked up during a test match against New Zealand in December last year.
Sri Lanka have not had much success of late, be it test cricket, ODIs or T20Is. In the longest version of the game, the Lankans are coming off defeats in their last three series; a 0-3 whitewash by England was followed by 0-1 loss in New Zealand and a 0-2 drubbing in Australia. Sri Lanka have not won any of their last nine bilateral series in the fifty-over format and have lost five of their last seven bilateral series in the T20 format.
Sri Lanka will need Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis to bat well in the test series. Dickwella scored the most runs for his side against Australia and the visitors will be hoping for some good performances from him in South Africa as well. Karunaratne has been the team's most consistent batsman in tests for a while now and it be crucial that he delivers at the top. Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha and Lakshan Sandakan will be the best bets for Sri Lanka when it comes to bowling. Lakmal was the most impressive of the lot against Australia with a five-wicket haul in the only match he played in that series and he is going to be the key man for his side, especially with the new ball.
Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn
Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhananjaya de Silva, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohamed Shiraz, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya
The recent performances of both the teams have shown why South Africa are the second-best test team in the world and Sri Lanka are sixth in the ICC test rankings. While the hosts are high on confidence after their 3-0 thrashing of Pakistan, the visitors will be lacking motivation after being hammered by Australia. Sri Lanka are yet to win a test series in South Africa - they have lost all the five they have played before in this country. South Africa recorded a 3-0 clean sweep the last time Sri Lanka paid them a visit in 2016-17, and given the contrasting forms these two teams have shown in the recent past, we are expecting another easy win for the Proteas.
Final Verdict: Back South Africa to win the test series.