11-Jan-2017 06:18:00 GMT
South Africa v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Johannesburg
South Africa eyes clean sweep in Amla 100th Test
Johannesburg: Sri Lanka, trailing 2-0, will want its batsmen to step up for final Test in Johannesburg.
Hashim Amla will become the eighth South African to appear in 100 Test matches in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka starting at the Wanderers Stadium on Thursday.
Although South Africa are overwhelming favourites after comfortable wins in the first two Tests, the match has significance for the hosts and for Amla in particular.
It will be a test of the team culture achieved under the captaincy of Faf du Plessis and an opportunity for Amla to bat his way out of a rare slump in form.
Fast bowler Kyle Abbott shocked Du Plessis, his fellow players and team management during the second Test in Cape Town when he revealed that five months previously he had signed a Kolpak contract to play county cricket in England.
Abbott's contract with Cricket South Africa was immediately cancelled, breaking up a match-winning fast bowling combination and creating doubt about the levels of trust within the camp. Abbott is just one of six current or recent international players to have chosen to go the Kolpak route, raising what Du Plessis described as a "red flag" for South African cricket.
Although uncapped fast bowler Duanne Olivier was called up to join the squad, Abbott's likely replacement is existing squad member Wayne Parnell, a left-arm fast bowler who has had a stop-start career, mainly because of injuries. The most recent of Parnell's four Test appearances was three years ago.
Amla, by a distance the most experienced player in a team missing injured stars AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, has not hit a half-century in his most recent five Test matches, during which he has scored 195 runs at an average of 21.66.
The tourists have managed just two individual half-centuries in the first two Tests and captain Angelo Mathews, with 149 runs at an average of 37.25, is the only batsman to have an average above 30.
The Sri Lankan batsmen will need to show a major improvement on a pitch which traditionally offers fast bowlers the most assistance of any of South Africa's Test venues.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (Capt.), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Jean-Paul Duminy, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (Capt.), Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Upul Tharanga, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep, Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Dushmantha Chameera and Vikum Sanjaya.
Pitch and conditions
The weather could be the biggest obstacle to South Africa achieving a clean sweep. Rain has affected preparations and more is predicted during the match.
Stats and trivia
Hashim Amla will become the eighth South African to appear in 100 Test matches
Kaushal Silva need 22-run for 2000 Test runs
January 12-16, 2017
Start time 1000 local (0800 GMT)