Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi have been selected as the Proteas bowl first after losing the toss in the second Test in Colombo.
The Proteas face a gruelling task. After losing the first Test in Galle by 278 runs, they will aim to end their Test duties against Sri Lanka on a high by drawing the two-match series.
The visitors’ batting game plan was scrutinised at length after the first Test, and their performance will determine the magnitude of the contest.
The Proteas have decided to bolster their batting lineup by bringing in De Bruyn instead of a second spinner. This sees Tabraiz Shamsi miss out after a decent performance in the first Test. Vernon Philander, who had a quiet game in Galle, has also been sacrificed and has been replaced by 22-year-old speedster Ngidi.
Sri Lanka have only made one change. Spinner Lakshan Sandakan has been replaced by spinning all-rounder Akila Dananjaya.
The Proteas have only lost one Test series in Asia in the last 10 years, which came against India in 2015. This was also the last time they visited Asia and victory in Colombo will protect this positive record of two draws, one win and one defeat. A loss will result in consecutive defeats on the subcontinent.
The Proteas will be wearing black armbands for Shamsi’s loss, after the passing of his father.
Proteas: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Akila Dananjaya, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal (c).
Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz