Steyn closes in as Islanders face nervy wait
Life without AB de Villiers will begin for South Africa on Thursday when they take on hosts Sri Lanka at Galle in the first of two Test matches (08:30 start).
Both teams come into the series off the back of impressive results with the Proteas having demolished Australia 3-1 at home while the Sri Lankans fought back valiantly to draw the recent three-Test series in the West Indies 1-1.
Faf du Plessis’s men are the No.2 ranked Test outfit in the world and will look to repeat the trick from their previous two-match Test tour to the Islands back in 2014, where they triumphed 1-0.
All eyes will be on whether Dale Steyn is handed a spot in the playing XI, with the pacer returning to the squad for the first time since injuring himself in the first Test against India at the start of the year.
While spin might be the way to go in the subcontinent, South Africa coach Ottis Gibson has insisted that his squad will look to play to their strengths by lining up with three quicks. If his words are anything to go by, Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander could make up South Africa’s pace battery with Lungi Ngigi being the unfortunate bowler to miss out.
If Steyn indeed plays, he will be looking to overhaul Shaun Pollock to become the highest Test wickettaker for South Africa. The 35-yearold is currently two wickets shy of Pollock’s tally of 421 victims.
Sri Lanka are sweating over the availability of skipper Dinesh Chandimal for the Test. Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusing- ha and manager Asanka Gurusinha admitted to conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game in the recent tour of the West Indies when they refused to take to the field owing to ball-tampering allegations.
Suspensions could be handed out if they are found guilty of the level 3 offence at a hearing.
Charging in again: Pacer Dale Steyn.