New challenge excites Amla

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Hashim Amla (Gallo Images)
Hashim Amla (Gallo Images)

Galle - Hashim Amla leads South African cricket into an exciting new era when he captains the Proteas Test squad for the first time against Sri Lanka at Galle on Wednesday.

This is the first match of a two-Test series that gives the Proteas the chance to regain the ICC No. 1 ranking.

 
Amla said he was excited at the "challenge of being captain", and hopes the confidence from the ODI series win will impact on the Test team.
 
"The one-dayers have given the team a lot of confidence," he said on Tuesday.

"The personnel is pretty much the same barring a few guys that have come into the team.

"It (winning) has given the team a lot of confidence and the self-belief of winning here.

"Test cricket is a different game but by the same token tasting that success does rub off."
 
It has been a quick turnaround between formats, but Amla feels the players have switched mind-sets accordingly ahead of the match.
 
"I have been surprised at the fact that is has been a lot easier to focus (on the Tests)," he said.

"We gave the one-day players a sufficient amount of space because after a series like that you do need a bit of down-time.

"And, although it has been three days between the one-days and Tests, it was a good call from the management to get some down time."
 
The gaps left by Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis present an opportunity for the talented youngsters in the squad to establish a place in the squad, but also poses a conundrum with regard to the batting order.

Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock and Stiaan van Zyl are all capable of filling the gaps, and have shown impressive domestic form to warrant their places in the squad.
 
"The thinking for me will always be long term," he said of where he will bat.

"That's in terms of getting our batting line-up in an order that will be fitting for this tour and tours to come."  
 
In team news, Quinton de Kock could be in line for his second Test cap, with AB de Villiers looking unlikely to recover in time from a tight hamstring to take the gloves.
 
"AB has been struggling with his right hamstring since Saturday's match," Amla explained. "He hasn't kept in any of the practises so it's unlikely that he will keep tomorrow, but he will play as a batsman."

Squads:

Sri Lanka: Lahiru Thirimanne, Upul Tharanga, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (captain), Kithuruwan Vithanage, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga, Dhammika Prasad, Chanaka Welegedara

South Africa: Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla (captain), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Stiaan van Zyl, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, Dane Piedt

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