GALLE – After showers had interrupted the Proteas’ preparations for this first Test, Galle greeted the visitors in all its bright sunshine on Thursday morning.
This allowed play to get underway at its scheduled 10am (Sri Lankan time) start, despite the entire ground being covered just a day earlier.
The toss, though, went the way of the hosts with Sri Lanka’s stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal winning the toss and having no hesitation in electing to bat. Sri Lanka’s regular captain Dinesh Chandimal is unavailable due to a ball tampering code of conduct violation on the recent tour of the West Indies.
South Africa bowling first will allow premier paceman Dale Steyn to have a crack at Shaun Pollock’s all-time national record. Steyn, who last played Test cricket in January at Newlands requires just three wickets to overtake Pollock’s 421.
The tourists have also opted for the second specialist spinner with Tabraiz Shamsi coming into the starting XI in the place of the retired AB de Villiers. It was expected that South Africa were to replace De Villiers with middle-order batsman Theunis de Bruyn. Shamsi will only be playing his second Test after making his debut in South Africa’s inaugural day-night Test in Adelaide against Australia 18 months ago.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Tabraiz Shamsi
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal (capt), Lakshan Sandakan, Dilruwan Perera.