Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss and elected to bowl in the first test against South Africa at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
The tourists decided to have first use of a lively looking surface in partly cloudy conditions on an opening morning.
Sri Lanka handed a debut to spinner Lasith Embuldeniya but have also included three seamers as they look to make inroads into the South African batting line-up, which at times has been brittle of late.
“It seems like there is some moisture in the pitch and for that reason, we have gone with three seamers,” Karunaratne said at the toss.
“We had a tough time in New Zealand and Australia, but that prepared us for these types of wickets. We have to play positively and put some runs on the board.”
South Africa have included spinner Keshav Maharaj in the place of batsman Theunis de Bruyn, unsure of how the wicket will play over the five days.
“I was in two minds about what to do, the wicket has some grass on it but it looks a bit soft,” home captain Faf du Plessis said.
“We have gone with all our bowlers, we are not sure with how the surface will play.
“There is so much X-factor in the bowling group that we fancy that whatever runs we get on the board, we can defend.”
Sri Lanka have an unbeaten record in their previous two tests at Kingsmead, drawing in 2000 and then claiming a handsome 208-run victory in 2011.
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Oshada Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lasith Ambuldeniya
(Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)