Cricket Buzz: SA seek to continue home dominance
IMAGE: Proteas will be overwhelming favourites against a Sri Lanka. Photograph: CSA/Twitter
South Africa will be expected to continue their recent dominance over touring sides when they host ailing Sri Lanka in a two-Test series starting at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
Their recent 3-0 sweep of Pakistan was South Africa's seventh successive home test series victory, a run that included a triumph over number one ranked India and a 3-0 whitewash of the Sri Lankans on their last tour in the 2016/17 season.
Their supremacy has been built around a fierce fast-bowling attack and lively wickets, the opposite of the conditions they faced when they lost 2-0 in Sri Lanka last July.
Although the Kingsmead pitch is expected to be slower and take more turn than it has in the past, the Proteas will be overwhelming favourites against a Sri Lanka side that were well beaten in Australia last month and have not won a game in any format since October.
"Whichever team comes here we're pretty much going to try to dominate them," Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj told reporters.
"Every series you play you want to be dominant and whitewash the opposition. Playing here, this should be our fortress. When people come here they should be on the back foot when they do take the field."
Maharaj played the first Test against Pakistan but was dropped for the next two as selectors went for an all-seam attack.
He may have more of a role to play in this series, which also includes a Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, a wicket that traditionally takes turn.
"At Kingsmead it's not your swing and fast bowling wicket that we were used to 10 or 15 years ago. The wicket will wear down and slow down significantly, I would say. I think it's just a patience game at Kingsmead now."
"It's a little bit slower than expected. But with the sun about, it may make the wicket harden up and get a little bit quicker than what we're used to as well."
Sri Lanka have arrived in some disarray, having dropped experienced captain Dinesh Chandimal and with media reporting there are rifts between the board and coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who has been removed as an on-tour selector.
Whatever the nature of the wickets, Hathurusingha acknowledges that the series will depend on how his side handle South Africa’s vaunted pace attack that includes Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Duanne Olivier.
Windies' Gabriel warned for abusive language
West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel was warned by on-field umpires for using abusive language following an interaction with England captain Joe Root during the third day of the third Test in St Lucia on Monday, according to British media reports.
According to the Guardian newspaper, Gabriel's comments were not picked up by stump microphones but Root was heard telling the bowler: "There's nothing wrong with being gay".
Umpires Rod Tucker and Kumar Dharmasena had a word with Gabriel soon after.
Root, who finished the day on 111 not out, refused to divulge what Gabriel said when asked about the incident at the end of day's play, saying it should stay on the field.
"It's test cricket and (Shannon) is an emotional guy trying to do everything he can to win a Test match. Sometimes people say things on the field that they might regret," the report quoted Root as telling reporters.
"I don't want anything said in the middle to ruin what's been a good Test series for him and his team."
"He's a good guy who plays hard cricket and is proud to be in the position he is. The battle was a good contest."
West Indies' coach Richard Pybus said he was not aware of what transpired but promised to address the issue if anything "untoward" was said.
At the end of day three, England were 325-4 in the second innings, with a commanding lead of 448 runs with Root and Ben Stokes at the crease.
West Indies lead the three-Test series 2-0 after victories in Bridgetown and Antigua.