Brace for yet more spin, Sri Lanka warns Proteas

The pitch for the second Test will also be a spinner-friendly surface, Rangana Herath declares.

Trial by spin: Rangana Herath starred in Sri Lanka’s comprehensive win in the first Test.   -  AFP

Rangana Herath warned South Africa on Thursday to expect yet more spin in the second Test after the visitor was skittled for its lowest total since the Proteas' readmission to international cricket.

Sri Lanka is chasing its first Test series win against the Proteas since 2006 and needs just a draw to clinch the honours against the world's second ranked Test side. South Africa lost the opening Test in Galle inside three days after being dispatched for 126 the first innings and 73 in the second.

Herath said pitch conditions were ripe for a repeat of last week’s drubbing, in which the left-arm spinner took five wickets and off-spinner Dilruwan Perera returned overall match figures of 10 for 78. “If you see the surface, it’s dry. It will be more of a spin friendly surface,” the 40-year-old veteran spinner said ahead of the final Test starting Friday in Colombo.

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“We have Dilruwan (Perera) and if we require we also have Dhananjaya (de Silva). He couldn’t bowl in Galle, but he is certainly ready to bowl during games,” Herath told reporters.

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis top-scored with a gritty 49 in his team’s first innings while paceman Kagiso Rabada impressed with four wickets in Sri Lanka's first innings. Rabada, who returned figures of 4 for 50, was ably supported by Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander in the first innings to bowl out the host for 287 runs, more than half of which were notched up by Sri Lankan opener Dimuth Karnaratne.

‘Dangerous weapon’

Du Plessis said his team will rely on its pace bowlers to come back hard at the host. “If it doesn't rain, then we will have a dangerous weapon in our fast bowlers. Once again we have to make a call as to whether we are playing three seamers or two spinners,” Du Plessis said.

Du Plessis added that South Africa was aiming to conquer local conditions in its bid to overtake India — about to embark on a five-Test series in England — and become the No. 1 side. “It is never easy winning away from home. When you are coming to the subcontinent, drawing a series is as good as winning a series,” he said.

“It's tough and that's what the best teams do. We need to get to that No. 1 position in Test cricket.”

The next visitor to Sri Lanka will be England in October.

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