Keshav Maharaj says the Proteas came to Sri Lanka as underdogs but will be ready to compete against the Sri Lankans in Colombo.
The Proteas were outplayed in the first Test in Galle. They suffered a 278-run defeat in what was trying conditions for the visitors.
The sub-continent tracks were always expected to trouble the Proteas, but nobody predicted their humiliation at the hands of Sri Lanka.
Despite being 1-0 down in the two-match series, Maharaj insists the belief and motivation remains high in the camp.
‘We have come here as underdogs,’ he said. ‘Sri Lanka are really good in their conditions, they showed that when they beat Australia here as well. There is everything to play for, South Africans are known to bounce back when we do lose our first match. The boys have worked hard, we are ready to give Sri Lanka a go in their conditions.’
This is Maharaj’s first tour of the sub-continent since making his debut in 2016, and the first opportunity for the left-arm spinner to test his skills in conducive conditions.
Maharaj went wicketless in the first innings in Galle but put that behind him in the second innings to finish with figures of 4-58.
He says the turnaround in his second-innings performance was due to more consistency in his lengths, and newfound rhythm after missing the tour warm-up match due to illness.
‘Everywhere you go in the world you want to be consistent in your lengths to cause the batter to be uncomfortable when you are bowling,’ he explained.
‘That is something I had to pick up quickly after the first innings where I didn’t have a lot of rhythm. I found that in the second innings I put the ball in better areas than I did in the first innings.’
Tabraiz Shamsi has returned back to Sri Lanka after leaving the tour for family reasons and will be available for selection for the must-win match.
Maharaj spoke about his new spin partner and what it’s like to form part of a spin duo.
‘Shamsi and I played a bit of domestic cricket together,’ he said. ‘We’ve always known each other and what we are about, we enjoy bowling together. It is something new for me because I have never bowled with another spinner at international level, but it is a lot of fun.’
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