They’ve had four days to recover from the storm that hit them at Durban, and South African skipper, Faf du Plessis, now hopes for slightly more-favourable conditions at Port Elizabeth to help them guard what has thus far been an unbeaten record at home against a sub-continental side. The Proteas have rarely been 1-0 down at home, and the fact that they’ve managed it against perhaps the weakest Sri Lankan side to have stepped here must be hurting them more.
Admittedly “surprised” by the madness that Kusal Perera brought about in the chase, du Plessis turned to history. “We’re very proud about our record – we have made sure that we’ve made our home a fortress,” he said on the sidelines on the eve of the second Test. “For the last two years or so, I don’t think we played a bad game against Sri Lanka at home. But we need to be better to beat them.
“Yes, the guys were very disappointed. I felt we were in control pretty much most of the Test match and then something brilliant took it away from us. There are areas we want to improve on for this Test match but we also understand that there were not a lot of mistakes made in the first game. It’s a disappointing thing with a short series and we obviously only play two matches. For us it’s about making sure we can square up the series.”
With debutant left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya picking up a fifer, St George’s Park could just be that venue which neutralizes his threat. Not for no reason is it the ground where they’ve not lost a match in their last six Tests out here, winning five of them. The pitch did have a green tinge, but du Plessis was quick to play down the threat.
“They surprised us with the way they played in Durban, but here there will be bit of sideways movement,” the skipper pointed out. “In Durban, there’s not lot of that. Kingsmead has always a five-wicket-haul for spinners. Here, although the spinner plays a role, I don’t think that much help will be there.
“It looks a normal pitch for me. It has looked like this for the last two years. We have played Australia and Sri Lanka here in the last two Tests. The grass tends to look a bit thick a day or two before the game, but the wind, when it blows like today, dries it quickly. So the groundsman tends to keep most of the moisture before the Test match and then take a decision on the morning of the match. Hopefully there will be some sideways movement for our seamers,” he quipped.
The second Test of the two-match series begins on Thurday (February 21).
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