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All bases covered for South Africa, says Sri Lanka coach Arthur

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Sri Lanka have “all bases covered” ahead of a two-match Test series against South Africa, head coach Mickey Arthur said Monday.

The first Test starts in Centurion Saturday.

Arthur said conditions at the Test grounds in Centurion and Johannesburg were likely to be more helpful to pace bowlers than they were in Durban and Port Elizabeth, where Sri Lanka gained upset wins for a 2-0 series victory in the 2018/19 season.

“Conditions are going to be totally different from what Sri Lanka had then,” said Arthur, “but I had a look at the pitch at Centurion this morning and I expect it to be a good cricket wicket.”

Arthur, who has also coached South Africa and Australia, guided Pakistan when they were beaten 3-0 in South Africa in 2018/19 shortly before Sri Lanka upset the odds.

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He admitted that he had a “whinge” about the pitches on Pakistan’s tour, which included Tests at Centurion and Johannesburg.

But that was a time when then-South Africa coach Ottis Gibson called for pitches that helped his pace bowlers dominate.

“I am comfortable we will have good South African conditions,” said Arthur.

He said the Sri Lankans had done their best to replicate likely South African pitches by preparing on bouncy, well-grassed surfaces in Kandy.

“We’ve covered all bases. We have 21 guys in our bubble here because we are going straight back to Sri Lanka to play England.

“We’ve got good seam bowling, good spin bowling and I am confident our top six batsmen can handle the conditions.”

A planned three-day warm-up match, which was due to start on Sunday, was cancelled because of Covid restrictions.

“I would have liked more time to prepare,” said Arthur, “but the Sri Lankan board has been very pro-active.

“We have had camps and intra-squad games and have tried to keep the players as sharp as they can be.”

The Sri Lankans flew to South Africa immediately after a Twenty20 competition.

“Playing T20 before a Test series is not ideal, but the players have been playing competitive cricket. I believe international players these days are good enough to shift focus,” said Arthur.

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