After watching four of his own bowlers succumb to injury in the first Test, it will only add to Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur’s woes that South Africa were able to announce on Monday the return of ace paceman Kagiso Rabada to their squad for the second Test starting at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Rabada has been pronounced fit to play again after a thigh strain and his addition is the only change to the squad doing duty in the first Test at Centurion. The highest-ranked South African Test bowler was cleared to enter the bio-bubble on Monday and was running laps around SuperSport Park during the lunch break.
Sri Lanka, in contrast, are wracked by injuries which have ruined the very competitive start they made to the game at SuperSport Park.
Dhananjaya de Silva, their star batsman in the first innings at Centurion but also a handy off-spinner, has been ruled out of the series after tearing a thigh muscle while running between the wickets. Opening bowler Kasun Rajitha then limped off the field with a groin injury after bowling just 13 balls and is also probably out of the second Test.
The tourists’ situation became even more dire on Monday as fast bowler Lahiru Kumara bowled one delivery after lunch and then walked off with a suspected groin injury as well, while leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga hurt his leg while fielding on the boundary and was taken off the field on a buggy. But he did return to bowl and picked up another two wickets.
There were times when Arthur’s face bore such a grim visage outside the Sri Lankan changeroom that industrial-strength anti-depressants seemed the only answer and, with the new regulations forbidding the use of runners in any circumstances, Sri Lanka could well have just seven wickets in their second innings as they look to cancel out their deficit of 225.