Johannesburg Test preview: South Africa target clean sweep in Amla’s 100th match

The South Africans would be confident of achieving a 3-0 clean sweep when they face a struggling Sri Lanka in the third and final Test of the series at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, starting on Thursday. A victory would be perfect way for the Proteas to pay tribute to one of their greatest batsmen, Hashim Amla, would be featuring his 100th Test. It will also be the first Test since Kyle Abbotts’ decision to end his international career to join Kolpak. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, would somehow want to avoid a 3-0 embarrassment, something they themselves inflicted on the Aussies at home.

As mentioned above, Amla will be featuring in his significant 100th Test, and will become the eighth player from his country to do so. He would thus want to make an impact in the match. But, Amla has not been in the greatest of forms of late, and seems to be well past his prime. The prolific runs scorer has managed under 200 runs in his last five Tests at an average of under 22. As a result of the same, his Test average too has dropped below the fifty mark. But, Amla does have a couple of tons to his name at Wanderers. So, he would be keen to add another.

In spite of missing big names like AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel due to injury, South Africa have easily gotten the better of the Lankans in the series. That has been the most impressive aspect of the hosts in the series. They have won the two Tests by margins of well over 200 runs. Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock have come up with excellent hundreds while Stephan Cook was in top gear in the previous Test. JP Duminy and Temba Bavuma too have chipped in with decent contributions although more will be expected from skipper Faf du Plessis.

South Africa will be forced to make some changes in the bowling department, with Abbott’s permanent unavailability. South Africa are now promoting a new name called Duanne Olivier, an uncapped fast bowler, who is rated highly in Proteas’ domestic circles. But, the first choice replacement for Abbott, in all probability, will be Wayne Parnell, the left-arm pacer, who can bat as well. Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander of course will be expected to do bulk of damage with the ball, with Keshav Maharaj and Duminy chipping in with their spinners.

Sri Lanka’s batsmen have just not been able to adapt to the conditions. Not a single batsman has got a hundred yet. Skipper Angelo Mathews, on expected lines, has been their top scorer. But, his effort hasn’t been impressive either, with only 149 runs so far with a highest of 59. It would be easy to understand how poorly the others have fared. Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal, all have been below par. In the bowling, Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara have impressed while Rangana Herath’s threat has been nullified by the conditions.

--By A Cricket Correspondent