Thursday, 24 December 2020 13:43

Staff Reporter.

South Africa return to the test arena for the first time in 11 months on Saturday hoping to arrest a dismal slide in the five-day game and with revenge on their minds as they host Sri Lanka in the first of a two-test series at Centurion Park.

Proteas will be out to seek revenge for last year’s 2-0 series defeat to the Sri Lankans where lacklustre performances in Durban and Port Elizabeth left South African cricket in dismay.

Captain Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Keshav Maharaj and Wiaan Mulder are the survivors from that series in what was also Sri Lanka's first ever series victory on South African soil.

Since readmission the Proteas and Sri Lanka have faced each other 29 times in red-ball cricket with the Proteas winning 14 of those encounters and Sri Lanka nine, while six Test matches ended in a draw.

Of the 29 matches the two teams have competed in, 15 were played on South African soil where the Proteas came out on top 11 times with Sri Lanka winning three [two of which came last year] and one encounter ending in a draw.

The Proteas were particularly dominant up until 2004 where they lost on only one occasion to the visitors.

But, the introduction of Mahela Jayawardene as captain of the Sri Lankans provided a small run of decent success, which yielded their biggest win to date over the Proteas back in July 2006.

Jayawardene smashed 374, his highest score ever in Test cricket, en route to an innings and 153-run victory over Graeme Smith’s team in Colombo. He also leads the head to head as the highest run scorer between the two teams with a total of 1782 runs in the period between 2000-2014.

On the South African side, former middle order batsman Darryl Cullinan holds the record for the most against Sri Lanka – 917 in the 19 innings he batted in.

The Proteas, though, hold the edge with seven series victories out of the 12 that have taken place since 1993 with the Sri Lankans winning four, while the 2000 series ended in a draw.

Sri Lanka on the other hand have won both of the past two series between the two countries, which will increase a bit of pressure on the Proteas to get back to winning ways.

The Proteas will head into the series on the back of three consecutive Test series defeat with their last victory coming against Pakistan at the start of 2019.

Since beating the Proteas in February last year, Sri Lanka have won one Test series [against Zimbabwe], lost one series [against Pakistan] and drawn one [against New Zealand].

The two-match sequence takes place at SuperSport Park in Centurion (December 26-30) and at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg (January 3-7) as the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s Test matches.