Sri Lanka in SA

Lankan pace woes for SA tour

2011-11-30 09:53
Lasith Malinga (AP)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Already haunted by their poor Test record in South Africa, Sri Lanka will arrive for the latest series weakened by the absence of several fast bowlers.

None of Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga or Dhammika Prasad could be considered for the squad announced last week, and on Wednesday the Lankans suffered another blow when 24-year-old Suranga Lakmal pulled out with an ankle injury.

They have not named a replacement as they are banking on one of the three quickies already mentioned recovering in time to be put on a plane for possible involvement from the second Test (in Durban from Boxing Day) onward.

But their stocks will be pretty depleted as they prepare to tackle the first Test at Centurion, from December 15 to 19, with an attack overwhelmingly unfamiliar with South African conditions because it has been so long since they last played here.

The tourists, ranked fifth on the ICC Test ladder to the Proteas’ third, may have to pin their seam hopes heavily on Dilhara Fernando, a veteran of 37 Tests and 146 one-day internationals who, if he plays, will be the only Lankan bowler at Centurion to have prior experience of Test combat in South Africa.

Encouragingly, his last appearance on our soil was at the very same Centurion, in November 2002, when his four for 49 in the South African second innings, in pursuit of a modest 121 for victory, gave the Proteas a huge scare before they emerged three-wicket winners.

Fernando, who can also be injury-prone but hits the deck hard when on song, ripped out Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince and current SA coach Gary Kirsten cheaply as the host nation tottered to 44 for five at one stage in the chase.

Sadly for Sri Lanka, the iconic Lasith Malinga, a genuine strike bowler with his eccentric round-arm action and toe-crushing yorkers, retired from all Test activity earlier this year to preserve a knee problem he has for one-day combat alone.

He will probably take part in the five-match ODI series which begins at Paarl on January 11.

Read more on:    sri lanka in sa  |  lasith malinga
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