Sri Lanka in SA

Smith: SL a different challenge

2011-12-14 15:26
Graeme Smith (File)
Pretoria - Proteas captain Graeme Smith said on Wednesday the host nation's batsmen would need to regroup ahead of their three-Test series against Sri Lanka as they prepared for a fresh challenge.

The South Africans drew 1-1 in a two-Test series against Australia last month, and Smith said his team's top order would need to be ready for Sri Lanka's spin bowlers when the first match gets underway in Centurion on Thursday.

"I think it is a different challenge for our batsmen," the skipper said.

"We have just come off a series in which all the bowlers we faced were over 145km and hour, and there are different challenges that we are going to face with the bowlers Sri Lanka have."

Sporadic downpours in Tshwane have left the Proteas seamers relishing a green wicket, but Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan remained confident and backed his side, regardless of the playing conditions.

"We have the self believe that everyone can do their job for the team," Dilshan said.

"We heard everyone say South Africa is the favourite for this series, but if we can play our brand of cricket we can beat any team in any kind of conditions."

The Proteas have played only two Tests in the last 11 months and Smith said they looked forward to the three-match series against the tourists.

"It is exciting to get your teeth into a proper Test series," he said.

"It has been a very disjointed season so far for us - we've had the two Test matches, then a lot of our guys didn't play for a few weeks.

"For us as a team, we now have the opportunity to sort of get stuck in for a month and a bit and really hopefully get some good momentum in the way that we play."

South Africa, victorious in only one of their last seven Test series, would need to find some consistency and aggression, according to Smith.

"We've played some really good Test cricket, especially at home," he said.

"We just haven't had that killer blow that could have won us those series.

"Instead of two out of three good sessions, if we can string three sessions together, that is something that is crucial for us.

"That is one reason why we probably haven't gone on to beat those teams in the last few years - we had two good sessions and one average session."

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have not won any of their last 14 Tests, though Smith believed they would prove a dangerous prospect.

"They are still a team I have a lot of respect for," he said.

"They always find a way. They are a very crafty team."

Dilshan said a decision on veteran batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who split the webbing on his right hand during last week's warm-up game in Benoni, would be made later on Wednesday.

"He is going to bat in the nets today, and after batting we will decide if he will play."

Read more on:    sri lanka in sa  |  graeme smith


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