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South Africa look to throw first punch and dictate second test terms

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s batting line-up were given a confidence boost from their innings and 45 run win over Sri Lanka in the first test but are aware they were up against an injury-hampered opponent, opener Dean Elgar said on the eve of the second test.

South Africa scored 621 runs as they won in Pretoria last Tuesday to arrest a dismal run of eight defeats in their nine previous tests and will be looking to complete a 2-0 series win when the second test starts at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

“It was a convincing win for us, but we know there are a few red flags going into the second one. I think despite scoring 600-runs, we shouldn’t take the hard work of batting for granted. It was a good effort, but we are aware we faced a bowling attack hit by injuries,” Elgar told a news conference on Saturday.

Sri Lanka fast bowlers Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha both suffered groin injuries, depleting the visitors’ attack and offering South Africa an opportunity for a lengthy stay at the crease.

“We know we’ve got to try and throw a first punch. We didn’t do that in the first test, it was almost like we waited for them to make a plan and then put ourselves under a lot of pressure with them scoring nearly 400 runs in their first innings,” Elgar said.

“Now we want to look to put them under pressure straight away. If we know if we put our best foot forward we can start to dictate the way the test goes.”

Elgar said South Africa were also mindful of the lack of experience in their own youthful bowling attack, but pleased with their progress.

“Our bowling in the second innings was a massive improvement from the first innings and we’ve had a lot of good conversations about that since the end of the first test,” he added.

Editing by Christian Radnedge