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RSA VS SL 1ST TEST 26-DEC-2020
Cricket Betting Tips - South Africa vs Sri Lanka 1st Test Prediction
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The newest of South Africa's regular Test grounds is the most South African of them all. A particular South Africa, that is. For there are many. On weekend afternoons here, the braai smoke draws an aromatic veil over the ground, the grass banks hum with beery buzz, and conversations clatter in, mainly, Afrikaans.
But foreigners are welcome. Even the opposition are treated with more respect at Centurion than at many other grounds. Except that there won't be a crowd on Saturday for the match against Sri Lanka, the first Test played in South Africa since Covid-19 changed everything about the world and how we live in it. So there will be no gracious reception from the locals to take the edge off the conditions, which would seem bespoke for South Africa's apparently bottomless well of quality fast bowlers.
Batting in the first four-and-a-half sessions at Centurion is often an exercise in survival. And a good idea to survive it is. Because in the next four-and-a-half sessions batters prosper more than they would elsewhere. The pitch loses its sting and the outfield, invariably quick, has hardened in the sun and is quicker still. Cricket Betting Tips So while their have been 14 hauls of more than five wickets in an innings in the 25 Tests played here, there have also been six scores of more than 150 - two of them double centuries.
Add to all that a welt of clouds banking on the horizon early in the day, lightning bolts scragging across the sky as tea approaches, and more than the odd thunderstorm of biblical proportions in the third session. In the open pressbox, reporters on deadline have ended up typing furiously while cowering under their desks with their shirts pulled over their heads to keep themselves as safe as possible and their laptops something like dry.
There's a theatrical quality to the drama of Test cricket at Centurion, and mostly the heroes of the piece are South Africa. Of those 25 Tests they have played here since November 1995 they have lost only two. Sri Lanka have been the opposition in four matches and have been beaten in all of them, twice by an innings.
But you need to go 21 places down the list of best bowling performances in an innings at Centurion to find the first one against Sri Lanka - Vernon Philander's 5/53 in December 2011. The only other Lankan entry on this side of the equation in the top 30 is Allan Donald's 5/54 in March 1998, the same match in which Muttiah Muralitheran took 5/63. Shaun Pollock's 111 in January 2011, Daryll Cullinan's 103 in March 1998 and another 103, by Neil McKenzie, also in January 2001, are the only centuries scored against Sri Lanka at Centurion.
Hashan Tillakaratne's undefeated 104 in November 2002 is their only hundred here. Tillakaratne batted for five-and-a-half hours and faced 231 balls for his prize. But let us not call that innings dour considering Centurion was also the scene of a 161-ball 97 by AB De Villiers against New Zealand in April 2006 and Kumar Sangakkara's 98 in January 2001, which took 215 deliveries.
So, for all Centurion's emphatic allegiance to South Africa's cause, Sri Lanka have had their moments. But they have been few and far between. Whether they can put enough of them together this time will be key to their chances of breaking their duck at the ground.
Kusal Perera's 153 not out at Kingsmead on Sri Lanka's previous visit to the country, in February last year, blazed a new trail for his team's history in South Africa and led to them becoming the first Asian side to win a Test series here. But flat, flabby Kingsmead is not Centurion. Kusal is class on legs, as he will need to be if he is to repeat his 2019 heroics in this match. Lahiru Kumara, quick but erratic, could be the Lankans' best hope of matching the home side in the pace department.
Both teams are playing their first Test of the coronavirus era, but the South Africans are also going where they haven't since Faf du Plessis quit the captaincy in February. Quinton de Kock, who has replaced him for the summer, has big boots to fill. He has played 215 internationals in all formats, but has never captained in a first-class match. Cbtf Cricket De Kock will have to find a way to win despite an inexperienced pace attack and a batting line-up strong on sturdiness but light on flair.
Centurion will allow South Africa to start as favourites. But they will have to work to keep that status.
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