About the Match
South Africa is going into the third test of the series as firm favorites. They are playing at their stronghold of the Wanderers, Johannesburg on a pitch that is expected to be green, bouncy and full of pace. Sri Lanka arrives at this test with nothing to lose since no one really expected anything much from them.
Can they pull a rabbit out their hat and do what no one expects them to?
3rd Test Preview
The Proteas have had a tumultuous last few weeks even though their performance on the field has been impeccable. The loss of Kyle Abbott, who took a Kolpak deal to play English County Cricket, has shaken up the management especially as Abbott was just beginning to cement his place in the team.
His replacement, Duanne Oliver, is the leading wicket-taker in the first-class season and could play if South Africa decide to field an all-pace attack for the third test. Wayne Parnell, who has been with the South African squad for the first two tests, is expected to be picked in the playing eleven in place of Abbott.
The mood around the camp was a little bit subdued as last minute efforts by Cricket South Africa to try and persuade Abbott to stay within the system failed and it remains to be seen if it will affect the player's morale going forward.
In Wayne Parnell, though, the team has a fantastic backup bowler. Parnell has put in long hours on the first class circuit over the last two years and remodeled his action to become far more consistent than he once was. The fact that he is a left arm bowler also brings something different to the game.
Parnell could not have hoped for a better situation in which to make his comeback considering the pitch on offer and the quality of the opposition batsmen. He takes the new ball for his franchise and we think he will do the same this time around as well.
Backing Parnell to pick up three wickets or more is a good punt in our opinion.
South Africa could go in with an all-seam attack although we think that Keshav Maharaj will keep his place for this match. The luxury of holding up one end while the seamers attack from the other is something that Du Plessis seems to enjoy.
This match will also be Hashim Amla’s 100th
Test Match. It is a momentous occasion for one of the greatest batsmen of our time and could be the occasion that Amla regains his form. His run without a fifty plus score has stretched to 10 innings now but we are doubtful if he will break that run this time around.
There is a lot of help expected to be on offer for the seamers and Amla has had difficulty with his footwork of late. The Wanderers is not a charitable ground for batsmen that are struggling.
Among the South African batsman, Du Plessis is our pick to be the top scorer this match
. He has looked in form and his middle order position should give him the advantage of batting when conditions have eased out somewhat.
The Sri Lankans have a lot of problems on their hands. Their most experienced batsmen, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal are simply batting too low down the order to be able to set a platform. Usually, by the time they come in, Sri Lanka are already in a fair bit of strife and there is nothing much that they can do about it.
Maybe Upul Tharanga could move up to three in this match and shield some of the other inexperienced batsmen around him. Kusal Mendis, who batted at three in the second match, has been billed as the future of Sri Lankan batting but has not quite lived up to that reputation.
His inability to wait it out and grind an innings is something that is preventing him from succeeding on this tour. The likes of Philander and Rabada have consistently attacked him just outside off stump and waited for him to make a mistake.
Mendis is a player of tremendous potential and we think he might have learned enough to play a substantial knock this time around. The other youngster that everyone was talking about before the tour was Dhananjaya de Silva.
He is another one of those players that looks good and then gets out. We don’t think he is likely to cross fifty in this match considering the tough examination that lies ahead of him.
The bowling for Sri Lanka has been a little bit better and the emergence of Lahiru Kumara in the last match is another positive that they can gain from. Kumara is a rare breed of Sri Lankan fast bowler that is capable of hitting speeds up to 145kmph. Add to that the movement he gets off the pitch and he will always be in the mix for wickets on the Wanderers pitch.
He is also coming off a successful test at Cape Town where he ended up with the best bowling figures for a Sri Lankan in South Africa. A bet on him as the highest wicket taker for Sri Lanka seems logical
Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep are the other two players likely to form the seam attack for Sri Lanka and even though Lakmal has a total 12 wickets to his name already, Pradeep with 3 wickets at an average of 74.33 has been very disappointing.
Sri Lanka will once again look to Herath for wickets even though the pitch has been prepared specifically to take him out of the game. The old warhorse has not done too badly by taking 6 wickets so far at 36.83 and we think he could pick two or more wickets in each innings.
Sri Lanka will need something memorable to even be competitive in this game and we are not sure if their batsmen will be up to the job. Their fast bowlers though should find the conditions to their liking and hope to keep the South Africans to manageable totals. Realistically though everything points to another 3-4 day humiliation for Sri Lanka