The Proteas will be aiming for another Test series clean sweep when they face Sri Lanka in the first of two encounters in Durban starting on Wednesday.
Faf du Plessis and his troops admit they were “hurt” by last year’s 2-0 whitewash on the island and are keen to return the favour.
They’re certainly facing opponents that have been dumped into chaos in the past few weeks.
Here are the talking points Du Plessis raised before battle commences.
Dale is no longer un-droppable
I feel in the last while there’s been a lot more options when it comes to selecting the Test and One-day sides. It’s good, it keeps everyone on their toes. You know, Dale is Dale Steyn. He’s an amazing bowler. But now you’ve also got Duanne Olivier who’s bowling really well. He almost took 25 wickets in the previous series. Previously, you would’ve said there’s no comparison. Yet you can’t say that anymore. Now you’ve got to choose between the two and if you believe both still add immense value, you have to drop an all-rounder or spinner.
Sri Lankan chaos can’t lead to complacency
They’ve had a tough time, most recently in Australia. There have been a lot of things happening with them off the field (match-fixing investigations, feuding teammates). I suppose it’s not ideal for them. I’ll always respect any opposition, whether it’s a lost Sri Lanka or an Ireland or Afghanistan. Our preparation doesn’t change. I tell my teammates when I feel a drop in intensity and remind them that there are still good players in their team. We can’t allow them to start well, two-Test series are very short. If we can keep them under pressure from the outset, their breaking point could possibly come sooner. We need to be switched on.
Challenge in the middle
It’s never fun when we have those middle strips (pitches) because they’re generally a little bit under-prepared. When you towards the back, it’s a bit better but the bowlers don’t bowl a lot in the back, they bowl more in the middle. If you’re going to face them, you’ve got to front up to a big challenge. But that’s something we as a batting unit pride ourselves on. Yes, conditions aren’t always easy for our batters but we want to make sure we graft. If we can graft our way to a good total, we know we have the bowling attack to roll the opposition over for even less.