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Sri Lankan conditions will bring teams closer - Graeme Smith

South Africa has tasted success in Sri Lanka before when they won the two-Test match series 1-0 in 2014.

Graeme Smith during the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras media open day at Sahara Park Newlands. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG - The Proteas tour of Sri Lanka gets underway on Thursday morning with the first Test at the Galle International Stadium and former Proteas captain, Graeme Smith, believes the sub-continent conditions will make the series a tight affair.

South Africa has tasted success in Sri Lanka before when they won the two-Test match series 1-0 in 2014 and return to the country on the back of two series victories over India and Australia at home.

Smith though believes that the Sri Lankans are still in a rebuilding phase following the international retirements of stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, but the favourable Sri Lankan conditions will not make the home side a pushover.

“They are in a rebuilding phase but going to the sub-continent is always a tough challenge, it is going to be extremely hot there. I expect them to prepare really slow and turning surfaces and it is interesting how our guys will adapt to that.

“I think on paper we are a stronger side than Sri Lanka and if we were playing then in South Africa I don’t think Sri Lanka would have been in the picture. But the sub-continent conditions will bring the teams closer together and make it a tougher challenge for South Africa.”

Though the longest-serving South African captain says it will be a tough challenge, he is optimistic about South Africa’s chances for victory.

“I think that our guys should win against Sri Lanka and coming off the back off a really good home summer with victories over India and Australia, the challenge now becomes winning away from home and winning consistently away from home.”

There are thunderstorms and rain predicted throughout the five days of the first Test in Galle and could have an impact on the game. South Africa are expected to field two frontline spinners in Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi who impressed in the two-day warm-up game last weekend.

Veteran seamer Dale Steyn could return to the Test line-up since January and needs just three wickets to eclipse Shaun Pollock’s South African record for most Test wickets.

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