England will be looking to make a statement when they face South Africa in the first game of the Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Eoin Morgan's hosts are the favourites to be crowned champions for the first time and will be expected to demonstrate their credentials at The Oval.

The hosts have no injury problems to contend with after Morgan (broken finger), Mark Wood (foot) and Adil Rashid (shoulder) were passed fit.

Wood, Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran are vying for a place in the side, which will be revealed at the toss. Jofra Archer is set to make his World Cup debut. 

The Proteas will be without paceman Dale Steyn due to a shoulder problem as they plot to claim the scalp of the top-ranked ODI side.

South Africa are also aiming to win the tournament for the first time.

HOW DID THEY WARM UP?

England thumped Pakistan 4-0 in a one-sided ODI series before losing to Australia and hammering Afghanistan.

Jason Roy was England's man of the series against Pakistan after making two half-centuries and a hundred. The opener also smashed an unbeaten 89 in the drubbing of Afghanistan.

South Africa eased to a high-scoring 87-run win over Sri Lanka before rain ensured only 12.4 overs were bowled in the warm-up clash with West Indies.

Captain Faf du Plessis and batsman Hashim Amla made half-centuries as South Africa racked up 338-7 versus Sri Lanka. Andile Phehlukwayo and Lungi Ngidi were the pick of the bowlers.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Eoin Morgan: "They [South Africa] are a well-rounded team, they are coming into a tournament with confidence. They have coped without Dale Steyn often for about a year and a half. They have cover. The last time they were here, Dale wasn't and they were fine."

Faf du Plessis: "Dale is a big loss to our team but we expected it. When we picked the squad he was 60 per cent ready so we anticipated for this to happen. But a fit Dale Steyn makes our attack a strong one so we need to make a few changes to our team for England. Our bowling is one of our X-factors."

OPTA FACTS

- England and South Africa have faced each other six times in the Cricket World Cup, winning three apiece. England won by six runs in their last World Cup encounter eight years ago.

- South Africa are on a six-game ODI winning streak. That run includes a 5-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis believes his side will be able to play freely as the underdogs in the Cricket World Cup opener against England.

The tournament gets up and running on Thursday at The Oval, with hosts and top-ranked England taking on Du Plessis' Proteas, who are without star bowler Dale Steyn due to a shoulder injury.

South Africa sit third in the world ODI rankings and arrive on the back of a six-match winning run in the 50-over format but Du Plessis insists his side are clear underdogs and that it is England who most cope with the pressure of being favourites.

"Whether you are favourites or not, you still have to play good cricket," Du Plessis told a news conference.

"[England] deservedly have the tag because they are the home nation and have consistently played good cricket.

"England are the favourites so if it means on the day there is less pressure on us then we can play freely.

"We are going in as underdogs and if that releases some players in the team then that is great."

Du Plessis' counterpart Eoin Morgan, meanwhile, is relishing the favourites tag ahead of what will be his 200th ODI appearance for England.

"We have spoken about it as a group, the level of expectation and the favourites tag is there for a reason," Morgan said.

"Over the last two years, particularly at home, we have been outstanding and that is the reason it is there. 

"There is a lot of belief within the dressing room. We are confident with our own game. Dealing with it is a challenge in itself but one we are looking forward to. A win under any circumstances will do."

Chennai Super Kings are a win away from successfully defending their Indian Premier League title after easing past Delhi Capitals and into the final courtesy of a six-wicket victory.

The Super Kings strangled the Capitals' batting line-up as Delhi disappointed in the second qualifier, in which they could only post 147-9.

And it was a total that proved easily within the grasp of Chennai, whose cause was aided significantly by excellent batting performances from Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson.

The duo each made half-centuries before Ambati Rayudu (20 not out) guided Chennai over the line with six balls to spare to set up a blockbuster final with Mumbai Indians on Sunday.

Shikhar Dhawan (18 off 14) and Colin Munro (27 off 24) each failed to build on strong starts, the impressive duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo combining to dismiss the latter, who swept to the West Indian at deep square leg.

Delhi captain Shreyas Iyer and Axar Patel went within nine balls of each other to leave them 80-5 and, though Rishabh Pant (38 off 25), recovered the situation somewhat, a sub-150 total proved well under par.

Du Plessis and Watson's 81-run opening-wicket stand put the Super Kings in a commanding position they never looked like relinquishing, four leg byes sealing the success.

BRAVO BUILDS THE FOUNDATION

The Super Kings' attack has been superb, throughout the tournament, with spinner Imran Tahir so often the star.

Yet he took something of a backseat as Bravo, Jadeja, Deepak Chahar and Harbhajan Singh each took two wickets apiece.

It was Bravo, though, who was the standout. Eleven of his deliveries were dot balls and he conceded just one boundary in his four overs.


DU PLESSIS & WATSON DO THE DAMAGE

Any hope of the Capitals replicating the Super Kings' bowling display was swiftly taken away by Chennai's top two.

They put on 81 in just 59 balls and there was no reprieve for Delhi even after Du Plessis (50) was caught at deep square leg after hitting seven fours and a six. 

Watson (50) piled further misery on the Capitals, bringing up his 31-ball fifty with a slice for six over long on and, when he holed out from the next delivery he faced, Chennai needed just 39 runs for victory.


CHENNAI EYE REVENGE

Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi all finished on 18 points in progressing to the play-offs, but the Super Kings' progression means the top two will contest the final.

They will need no extra motivation having lost to Mumbai in the first qualifier three days ago, and should be confident of gaining revenge after this emphatic triumph.

Chennai Super Kings missed out on the chance to seal top spot in the Indian Premier League table as Kings XI Punjab cruised to a six-wicket win on Sunday.

Victory in Mohali would have seen the defending champions secure first place, but KL Rahul's superb 71 from just 36 balls helped the hosts overhaul CSK's 170-5 with two overs remaining to finish their season on a high having missed out on a top-four berth.

Faf du Plessis' electric 96 off 55 and Suresh Raina's 53 from 38 formed the foundation of Chennai's total, the pair adding 120 for the second wicket.

But Rahul and Chris Gayle (28) laid on 108 inside 11 overs in their opening stand before Nicholas Pooran made sure there would be no nervy finish.

The Super Kings will still finish top if Kolkata Knight Riders overcome Mumbai Indians later on Sunday and in any event MS Dhoni's men will return home for the qualifier between the leading two sides on Tuesday.

 

FAF TO THE FORE BEFORE KINGS XI FIGHT BACK

Shane Watson's early departure brought Du Plessis and Raina together and it was the South Africa captain who assumed the role of chief aggressor.

Du Plessis launched 10 fours and four sixes in his excellent knock, including taking Andrew Tye for four-four-six to start the 16th.

He fell narrowly short of a century, however – one of four wickets to go down from a final 21 deliveries that delivered just one boundary.

 

RAHUL RUNS RIOT

The India batsman got the Kings XI chase off to a flying start, crashing three of his five sixes inside the first two overs.

And Harbhajan Singh came in for severe punishment in the fourth, which saw Rahul take the spinner for three fours and two more maximums.

Gayle soon got in on the fun, thumping Imran Tahir for four-six-six before he and Rahul perished to Harbhajan (3-57) from successive balls in the 11th to give CSK hope.

That chink of light was soon extinguished, however, as Murali Vijay put down a sitter at point when Pooran was only 13, and the West Indian had made 36 by the time he was dismissed with seven required from a little under four overs.

Royal Challengers Bangalore's resurgence continued despite MS Dhoni's heroics as Parthiv Patel's final-ball direct hit earned the Indian Premier League's bottom side a thrilling one-run win over leaders Chennai Super Kings.

Patel (53) had underpinned the Challengers' innings as they made 161-7, with Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo each taking two wickets apiece for Chennai.

Dale Steyn then claimed two dismissals in the opening over of Chennai's innings and, at 28-4 at the end of the powerplay, they had it all to do when Dhoni (84 not out) arrived, yet the 37-year-old dragged his team to the brink of victory with 24 runs off the first five balls of the final over.

That meant Chennai needed two from the final ball to win with Dhoni on strike, yet Umesh Yadav's delivery went through to Patel behind the stumps and he beat Shardul Thakur's dive to run him out, clinching a third win in four for Bangalore.

Du Plessis atones for drop in the field

Dhoni's team started brightly, with Bangalore captain Virat Kohli out in the third over, yet Faf du Plessis looked to have made a costly error when he misjudged AB de Villiers' shot to him at mid off and could only get his fingertips to the ball.

De Villiers appeared in the mood when he reached 25 off 19 balls and he dispatched Jadeja's shorter ball to the long-off boundary, but his compatriot did not put down another chance.

It was one of two catches made by Du Plessis – who has now taken 10 in this year's IPL – though his most impressive act was the role he played in removing Marcus Stoinis (14) as he shovelled the ball up to Dhruv Shorey while falling over the rope to claim a brilliant assist.

Steyn sets the tone again as Dhoni's effort comes up short

Bangalore's dismal start to the IPL campaign owed much to their feeble bowling attack, which has been rejuvenated since Steyn returned in a 10-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders last time out.

The Challengers had taken only three wickets in the powerplays of their first eight matches, but have now taken seven in their past two, with Steyn (2-29) and Yadav (2-47) laying the foundations again.

Steyn accounted for Shane Watson, who edged to slip, and bowled Suresh Raina in the opening over, while De Villiers took routine catches off Yadav's bowling to dismiss Du Plessis and Kedar Jadhav. That left Chennai 28-4, a position that ultimately proved too much to come back from despite Dhoni's brilliance.

Dhoni reached his half-century off 35 balls with one of his seven sixes. He then dragged his team into a position to triumph with three maximums in the final over – including one that went out of the stadium – but his failure to get bat on ball at the death allowed Patel to be the match-winner instead.

Chennai Super Kings thrashed Kolkata Knight Riders by seven wickets in a one-sided top-of-the-table Indian Premier League clash on Tuesday.

The Super Kings were sensational after choosing to bowl, with Deepak Chahar taking 3-20 as the Knight Riders – just ahead of their opponents in the standings before this game – could only muster 108-9.

That was despite the best efforts of Andre Russell, who was 50 not out, but even a plodding response from the hosts could not turn the match back in Kolkata's favour.

Faf du Plessis made an unbeaten 43 and the chase was completed with 16 balls remaining.

 

SUPER KINGS' SUPERB START

Any suggestion of a tight contest between two in-form sides was put to bed immediately as the Super Kings picked up a wicket in each of the first three overs.

Chris Lynn went lbw for a duck to Chahar, who then superbly caught Sunil Narine off Harbhajan Singh (2-15) and also dismissed Nitish Rana without scoring.

From 9-3, there was some improvement from the Knight Riders as skipper Dinesh Karthik made 19. But Chahar accounted for Robin Uthappa before Imran Tahir (2-21) joined in and took out both Karthik and Shubman Gill. Kolkata were 47-6 and floundering again.

RUSSELL ATTEMPTS RESCUE ACT

The Super Kings continued to sweep through the Kolkata line-up as Russell's partnership of 29 with Piyush Chawla was ended when the latter was stumped off a Harbhajan delivery, before Kuldeep Yadav was run out next ball. Prasidh Krishna also went for a duck.

But Russell kept going and was rewarded with a 44-ball half-century, sealed with a four from the final delivery of the innings – adding to the five sixes already struck.

Hopes of a fightback remained extremely slim, though, and Chennai were well on their way on 40-2 by the end of the powerplay.

SLOW AND STEADY DOES IT

Despite a solid start, the Super Kings perhaps allowed the contest to become closer than it should have.

Du Plessis was the one constant, yet contributed only three fours, while his various partners likewise took their time.

An outing that had begun in dreadful fashion ended the same way for the Knight Riders as it was Narine's delivery to Du Plessis that settled the match, running towards the home dugout for five wides.

Lasith Malinga was scathing of his Sri Lanka team-mates after another poor display with the bat contributed to their six-wicket defeat at the hands of South Africa on Wednesday.

The tourists were rolled out for just 189 in the fourth ODI in Port Elizabeth as the Proteas took a 4-0 lead with one match to come in the series.

Only two of Sri Lanka's top six managed double figures and they were indebted to a late blitz from number nine Isuru Udana, who crashed seven fours and four sixes in his entertaining 78 from only 57 balls.

Following the second ODI, which saw the visitors skittled for only 138, Malinga said his side "must understand their own value" on the international scene and the veteran seamer was similarly critical after this latest loss at St George's Park.

"You can't say much," said the captain. "We are going on the same path. The wicket was very suitable for the bat, but the batsmen didn't realise the value and the opportunity to play a long innings.

"Being six down inside 18 overs, it's very hard to come back. We always talk about taking responsibility and putting our hands up to bat through the full 50 overs, but the last few years, we've been struggling to do that.

"Before we get to the World Cup, we have to realise that and get there. Some people don't realise their value and do their job for the national team.

"This is a good, tough side to play before the World Cup. All the players need to realise these are the conditions we need to prepare for at the World Cup."

Winning skipper Faf du Plessis, meanwhile, was glad to see David Miller and JP Duminy steer the chase home after he and Quinton de Kock had fallen when well set.

"It's really pleasing to see JP and Dave finish it off for us," he said. "That's what we want our middle order to do for us.

"Big picture, it's not the worst thing that Quinton and I got out today, because it gave those guys a chance.

"We're playing some really good cricket. All the stuff that needed to happen over the last six months or year has happened. One more [match] to go, and then the guys off to IPL, and then it's an exciting two months for us."

Faf du Plessis made a classy unbeaten century and Imran Tahir tormented Sri Lanka as South Africa started the one-day international series by easing to an eight-wicket win at the Wanderers.

Captain du Plessis passed 50 for the sixth time in his last eight innings after being dropped on 32 and went on to finish 112 not out off 114 balls in an emphatic win for the Proteas on Sunday.

Kusal Mendis (60) was the only Sri Lanka batsman to make a half-century as they collapsed to 231 all out, Tahir taking 3-26 and the fit-again Lungi Ngidi claiming 3-60 in his first international since recovering from a knee injury.

Du Plessis and Quinton de Kock (81 from 72 balls) put South Africa well on their way to a victory which was secured with 11.1 overs to spare, putting the hosts 1-0 up in the five-match series.

Ngidi made up for lost time by removing both openers cheaply after du Plessis won the toss, Niroshan Dickwella caught and bowled before Upul Tharanga chopped on.

Oshada Fernando smashed Kagiso Rabada and Ngidi for huge sixes and Kusal Perera dispatched debutant Anrich Nortje for back-to-back boundaries before edging behind in Tahir's first over.

Mendis was successful with a review after being given out leg before to Tahir but South Africa were celebrating again when Fernando was run out for 49 after a mix-up off the next delivery.

The stylish Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva came together at 101-4 and produced a much-needed stand, the former clattering Dwaine Pretorius for six over midwicket as he raced to a half-century.

Yet Sri Lanka capitulated after Tahir had Dhananjaya (39) stumped, the spinner also removing Mendis as Lasith Malinga's side lost six wickets for 36 runs in the space of 10 overs - Nortje claiming a first international victim.

Vishwa Fernando snared Reeza Hendricks caught behind early in South Africa's run chase, but du Plessis was in great touch as he hit Thisara Perera for three consecutive boundaries before being dropped by Lakshan Sandakan off the next ball.

Du Plessis swept Dhananjaya for six to reach his half-century and de Kock whipped Malinga for four to reach his 50 and upped his scoring rate to overtake his skipper, setting about Sandakan and Akila Dananjaya.

De Kock looked destined for a hundred until he fell leg before to Dananjaya, but du Plessis reached an 11th ODI with a quick single and Rassie van der Dussen made 32 not out in an emphatic win.

Faf du Plessis could not hide his disappointment after South Africa suffered a shock series whitewash at the hands of Sri Lanka.

The tourists became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa after wrapping up an eight-wicket win in the second meeting at St George's Park.

Du Plessis had seen his side earn a first-innings lead, but Sri Lanka – led by Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando's unbroken 163-run partnership – sealed a remarkable turnaround as a thrilling encounter finished inside three days.

The Proteas captain was left to lament a sub-par display from his team and offered no excuses for the outcome.

"[It's] very disappointing, up there with the most disappointing from my personal point of view," he said.

"We were poor with the bat right through the series. Both teams underperformed with the bat on two pitches that were conducive to scoring runs.

"Two guys scoring big runs like those two [Fernando and Mendis] should have happened.

"Ninety-nine percent of our dismissals were soft, judgment errors and that's only fingers pointing back at ourselves.

"It is mind-blowing that 31 wickets fell in two days; it felt like a superb wicket. 

"The last two Tests, we were not one as a team. We did not take them for granted ... maybe perhaps the guys were mentally a little bit off. But again, that's no excuse."

Dimuth Karunaratne lauded his side's work ethic and ability to enjoy the occasion after Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa.

The tourists wrapped up an eight-wicket victory on day three of the second Test to seal a 2-0 series whitewash.

Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis' unbeaten 163-run partnership saw the Lions chase down the 197 required for victory at St George's Park on Saturday, much to the delight of captain Karunaratne.

"It's really a great feeling," he said, having seen his side bounce back from series whitewashes in New Zealand and Australia. "It's not easy when you come to South Africa and win a series.

"A lot of hard work, we did really well, enjoyed it a lot, and that's why we created history.

"I think the tours of New Zealand and Australia were really tough, we learnt a lot. The players wanted to do better for the team and for themselves. They realised what to do and what not to do, and that's why we are here."

The skipper conceded, however, that he was concerned after the Lions only posted 154 in their first innings. 

"I want to thank the youngsters, like Vish [Vishwa Fernando], [Lasith] Embuldeniya, Oshada [Fernando]. Then with the bowling, Kasun [Rajitha], Suranga [Lakmal] – all put their hands up.

"First-innings batting is a concern, we were behind the game at all times, but came back really well thanks to the bowlers.

"I have to dedicate this win to all the guys who supported us, the Sri Lankan fans who supported us. They backed us when we kept losing, we wanted to do something for them."

Sri Lanka became the first Asian nation to win a Test series in South Africa after wrapping up a comprehensive eight-wicket triumph on Saturday.

The tourists returned to St George's Park on Saturday requiring 137 runs to secure victory – and a 2-0 series success – inside three days and, having resumed on 60-2, did so without losing any further wickets.

It was the superb efforts of Oshada Fernando (75) and Kusal Mendis (84) that saw Sri Lanka over the line, particularly as a tough opening session had been predicted after 18 wickets fell on day two.

But after chasing down a total of over 300 in the first Test, the 197 required this time did not seem to unduly trouble the Lions, who were aggressive in their pursuit of history.

The result marks an incredible turnaround for Sri Lanka, who had conceded a 58-run first-innings lead to the Proteas after being dismissed for 154.

There were very few moments of concern for the apparently unflappable Fernando and Mendis, who were much improved from their showings in the first innings, where the former was out for a duck and the latter a quick-fire 16.

Fernando's desire to get the job done as quickly as possible was evident from the two maximums he struck, the second of which drew the scores level.

That left him with the honour of knocking off the single that sealed the win before lunch, taking the partnership up to an unbroken 163 and sparking jubilant celebrations among the travelling contingent. 

Sri Lanka are sensing an historic Test victory over South Africa after mounting a fightback on an astonishing day two that saw 18 wickets tumble at St George's Park.

No Asian team has ever won a Test series in South Africa, but Sri Lanka will achieve that feat on Saturday if they score the 137 runs they require in Port Elizabeth with effectively seven wickets remaining.

The tourists could surely not have envisaged being in such a promising situation when they were skittled out for 154 on Friday, Kagiso Rabada taking 4-38 as the Proteas claimed a first-innings lead of 68.

Sri Lanka, missing their main spinner after Lasith Embuldeniya suffered a dislocated thumb, then forced South Africa to collapse to just 128 despite an unbeaten 50 from captain Faf du Plessis, Suranga Lakmal (4-39) the pick of the bowlers.

That left Dimuth Karunaratne's side chasing 197 to go down in the record books and claim a whitewash, which looks to be very much on the cards after they reached stumps on 60-2 - essentially three down with Embuldeniya unable to bat.

Duanne Olivier took a sharp catch off his own bowling to remove Lahiru Thirimanne in the third over on a day which Sri Lanka started on 60-3 and Rabada got in on the act by bowling Kasun Rajitha with a beauty.

Niroshan Dickwella (42) and Kingsmead hero Kusal Perera (20) went on the attack, but Rabada removed them both and Wiaan Mulder claimed a maiden Test wicket as Sri Lanka folded.

South Africa lost the out-of-sorts Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma cheaply in their second innings, but were still very much on top at 90-3 before capitulating with a whimper.

Hashim Amla moved past Graeme Smith to become his country's second-highest run-scorer in the longest format before Vishwa Fernando had him caught at first slip by Kusal Mendis.

Du Plessis hung in there, but South Africa lost seven wickets for 38 runs, Lakmal getting rid of the dangerous Quinton de Kock caught and bowled and finishing a pitiful innings by trapping Olivier leg before after the impressive Dhananjaya de Silva took 3-36.

Sri Lanka were 34-2 after Thirimanne and Karunaratne nicked behind off Rabada and Olivier respectively, but no further damage was done, and they should fancy their chances of a stunning series win after chasing down over 300 in the first Test.

Faf du Plessis warned South Africa must raise their game if they are to avoid a first home Test series defeat to Sri Lanka.

Kusal Perera was the hero with a magnificent unbeaten 153 to seal a sensational one-wicket victory in the first Test at Kingsmead.

Du Plessis said the Proteas were taken by surprise in Durban, having gone into the match as strong favourites given the on and off-field issues Sri Lanka have had to contend with.

South Africa have won five and drawn one of their last six Tests in Port Elizabeth, but captain Du Plessis knows they will have to step it up to avoid making unwanted history.

"We're very proud about our record - we have made sure that we've made our home a fortress," said the skipper.

"For the last two years or so, I don't think we played a bad game against Sri Lanka at home. But we need to be better to beat them."

The batsman added: "They surprised us with the way they played in Durban, but here there will be bit of sideways movement.

"In Durban, there's not a lot of that. Kingsmead has always [offered] a five-wicket haul for spinners. Here, although the spinner plays a role, I don't think that much help will be there."

All-rounder Wiaan Mulder could make his South Africa Test debut in the absence of Vernon Philander (hamstring).

 

 

South Africa collapsed after lunch on day three in Durban to bring Sri Lanka back into the first Test as they chase 304 for victory.

The Proteas looked to be in complete control at the end of the first session at Kingsmead, even after losing Quinton de Kock (55), with their lead standing at 271 runs.

But the hosts added only 32 to that total after the restart as Sri Lanka took five wickets - including that of Faf du Plessis (90) - for just eight runs in a dominant spell, inspired by debutant Lasith Embuldeniya's 5-66.

That flurry ensured a more attainable target for the tourists and they were still in the contest at stumps, with Kusal Perera (12 not out) and Oshada Fernando (28 no) battling away on 83-3, 221 short of an unlikely triumph.

Already in a commanding position, South Africa cruised through the first session of day three as Du Plessis and De Kock built a partnership of 96.

Kusal Mendis was substituted out for a time as a Du Plessis edge did not carry and he was hurt in stooping for the catch, before insult was added to injury when an overthrow provided De Kock with a 56-ball half-century.

However, a rare De Kock error saw the Proteas star waste a review on a blatant lbw as he was trapped by Embuldeniya to halt the stand short of three figures.

It initially appeared to matter little, yet the match turned dramatically in the second session.

Vernon Philander was the first to go as he was beaten by Embuldeniya, before Du Plessis followed via a straightforward lbw decision off Vishwa Fernando (4-71) just before a drinks break.

South Africa's lower order never recovered and Embuldeniya swiftly added Kagiso Rabada, with Vishwa removing Keshav Maharaj and Dale Steyn to suddenly conclude the innings.

Keen to seize this improbable opportunity, Sri Lanka made a solid start with the bat as Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne paired for 42.

But the duo departed in quick succession with Rabada snaring Thirimanne while Karunaratne went to a tight lbw call, and then Mendis sent a cheap edge behind for a duck to hand Duanne Olivier a wicket.

Bad light stopped play for the day as Sri Lanka steadied the ship through Perera and Oshada, with plenty of work left to do but the tourists at least in with a fighting chance.

Faf du Plessis wants to see South Africa force beleaguered Sri Lanka to "breaking point" early in the two-match Test series.

Struggling Sri Lanka will start the series in Durban on Wednesday without a win in seven Tests, losing all but one during that dismal run.

Captain Dinesh Chandimal was dropped following an emphatic 2-0 defeat to Australia, so Dimuth Karunaratne will skipper his country against the Proteas.

A new selection panel was appointed in November and Sri Lankan cricket has also been rocked by match-fixing allegations, all of which head coach Chandika Hathurusingha said have had an impact in the dressing room. 

South Africa captain Du Plessis says his side will show no mercy on the tourists as they eye a whitewash.

"It's important for us to keep them under pressure to make sure they don't start the series well." said the batsman.

"If we can do that, possibly their breaking point will be a little bit sooner than it would [usually] be because of all the stuff that's happening away from the game."

He added: "They have had a tough time in Australia and there have been a lot of things happening away from their team,

"It's not ideal for them but I will always respect the opposition we play against. Our preparation doesn't change."

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