Sri Lanka will look to level the series at Cape Town © Getty Images
Sri Lanka will look to level the series at Cape Town © Getty Images

Sri Lanka went down meekly in the first Test at Port Elizabeth against South Africa and consequently lost the match by 206 runs.  They will surely want to bounce back in the second Test, but it will be difficult as South Africa have been in excellent form in Tests of late and by no stretch of imagination will they be pushovers. Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews blamed his side’s terrible shot selection for the defeat. He also praised Kusal Mendis for his knock in the second innings and conceded that despite having the bowling attack to win the Test, Dushmantha Chameera – returning to the side after recovering from stress fracture – was not up to the mark.

Mathews however conceded that it would be unfair to give Chameera the axe and he should be given a chance. Sri Lanka are searching for a good No. 3, which could mean that Sri Lanka could give someone from the bench a chance after Kusal Perera was dismissed for 7 and 6 in his two innings in the first Test respectively. Mathews’ concern over Chammera’s fitness could also pave way for another fast bowler, who will be entrusted to partner Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep. With that said, let us take a look at the XI Sri Lanka are likely to field in the crucial second Test at Cape Town.

Full Cricket Scorecard: South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2nd Test at Cape Town

Top-order: Sri Lanka openers Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne got off to starts in the second innings at Port Elizabeth, but failed to convert. Karunaratne has been in good form in Tests. He scored a couple of fifties and a century against Zimbabwe and followed that up with another ton for Sinhalese Sports Club. He looked in good touch in the warm-up game as well. After scoring 110 against Australia, Silva followed that up with 94 against Zimbabwe in his next innings, but has failed to convert his starts after that. Karunaratne and Silva will not just have to see the new ball away, but at least one of them will have to score big.

At No. 3, Sri Lanka might go in with Mendis in place of Perera. Despite of being dismissed for a duck in the first innings of the first Test, Mendis made a solid 48 at No. 4. It will not be a bad idea to promote him to No. 3 and replace Perera with young Dhananjaya de Silva at No. 4. With average of close to 56 in Tests, de Silva could fit perfectly well in that position. He has shown promise in his brief international career so far and perhaps needs this push to enable him to reach his potential at the highest level.

Middle-order: Mathews will continue to come in at No. 5 and will have the experience of Tharanga and Chandimal to follow him. If the top-order fails to deliver, Sri Lanka always have the experience of these three players to dig them out of trouble. Mathews top-scored for Sri Lanka in the second innings of the first Test and will be eager to go on and get a big score in this game. Chandimal has played some excellent innings in the past and does not often fail with the bat in two Tests in a row. This will be a good chance for  him to set the records straight.

Bowlers: Lakmal and Pradeep bowled very well in the first Test. In the first innings they shared 7 wickets between them, but failed to have much impact in the second innings as South Africa piled on the runs. Mathews is certainly another seam up option, but Sri Lanka will be tempted to give Lahiru Kumara a chance ahead of Chameera. Kumara picked up three wickets in the warm-up match and is perhaps Sri Lanka’s quickest bowler at the moment. What will perhaps go against him is his lack of experience, but could turn out to be a surprise package, if picked. Rangana Herath managed to pick up just 3 wickets in the first Test, but could be a threat if the pitch at Cape Town has even a little bit of assistance. De Silva with his off-spinners too could be a useful weapon, if needed.

Sri Lanka’s likely XI for second Test against South Africa: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews (c), Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Rangana Herath, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep.