Captain Faf du Plessis is eager to exploit conditions that have traditionally been good for South Africa, when the second and final Test against Sri Lanka starts at St George’s Park on Thursday.
The Proteas haven’t lost a Test at the Port Elizabeth venue since 2013 – a six-year streak that includes victories over the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.
‘We’re very proud about our record – we have made sure that we’ve made our home a fortress. For the last two years or so, I don’t think we played a bad game against Sri Lanka at home. But we need to be better to beat them,’ said du Plessis.
‘It looks a normal pitch for me. It has looked like this for the last two years. We have played Australia and Sri Lanka here in the last two Tests. The grass tends to look a bit thick a day or two before the game, but the wind, when it blows like today, dries it quickly.
‘So the groundsman tends to keep most of the moisture before the Test match and then takes a decision on the morning of the match. Hopefully there will be some sideways movement for our seamers.’
The Sri Lankans won the series opener at Kingsmead in Durban by one wicket after batsman Kusal Mendis struck a superb fourth-innings century against an opposition four positions higher in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings.
‘They surprised us with the way they played in Durban, but here there will be a bit of sideways movement. In Durban, there’s not lot of that. Kingsmead was always a five-wicket-haul for spinners. Here, although the spinner plays a role, I don’t think much help will be there,’ concluded Du Plessis.
The hosts will be without the injured Vernon Philander, who has been sidelined with a hurt hamstring. He will likely be replaced by fellow all-rounder Wiaan Mulder. Batsman Theunis de Bruyn and Zubayr Hamza are also in contention.