South Africa seek ruthless edge at home

CENTURION, South Africa, (Reuters) – South Africa are looking to rediscover their ruthless streak in the home test series against Sri Lanka, captain Graeme Smith said  yesterday.

Although South Africa have stayed in the top three of the world test rankings for the last few years, they have not won a home series since beating Bangladesh in 2008, drawing with England, India and Australia.

“I hope we get a lot of confidence out of the way we play. We’ve played some really good cricket at home, but we just haven’t been able to land that killer blow. We’ve dominated, but we haven’t done enough to get over the line,” Smith told a news conference before the first test starting today.

“I’m hoping we can string three good sessions together instead of just two out of three … that’s probably why we haven’t been able to beat the good teams. Hopefully, we can string a whole day together against Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka arrived in Centurion to a pitch with a lush covering of grass, conditions exactly the opposite to what they are used to at home.
“The pitch looks pretty green. I think the groundsman’s having a bit of a panic, he’ll be wanting heaters and I reckon there’ll be a tent up over the pitch this afternoon,” Smith said.

Graeme Smith

“He only started preparing the pitch on Monday and he desperately needs some sunshine. I’m sure he hoped for more sunshine than he got.”

Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said his side were going to have to perform on whatever surface they were given.

“The pitch looks good for fast bowlers, all fast bowlers will enjoy it,” he said. “We have no control over the groundsman, we just have to play on that wicket. It’s definitely the greenest pitch I’ve seen in South Africa, even more than in 2002-03.”

Sri Lanka’s pace bowling reserves were decimated before the tour by injuries to Nuwan Kulasekara, Dhammika Prasad, Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal. The tourists are also still waiting for a replacement for Nuwan Pradeep who strained his hamstring in a warm-up game last weekend.

Sri Lanka have taken encouragement from their performance in that match, against a SA Invitation XI in Benoni. The visitors dismissed the home side for 357 and made 207 for three in reply in a rain-shortened game.

“Our last test against Pakistan went very well, we came back strongly after losing the previous game. And the bowling unit did a great job on a really flat pitch and the top-order batsmen got runs in the warm-up,” Dilshan said.

Sri Lanka are hoping for a change of luck South Africa, where they have lost six and drawn one of their seven tests.
The Centurion test is the first Sri Lanka have played in South Africa since 2002-03. The second match of the series is in Durban and the third in Cape Town.

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