The 36-year-old Herath needed four stitches in the spinning finger of his left hand after he tried to stop a full-blooded drive from England's Jos Buttler during Sri Lanka's nine-wicket win in Wellington on March 1 and hasn't played since.

Herath's left-arm spin would be a useful addition to Sri Lanka's attack on a Sydney Cricket Ground pitch taking turn.

But Mathews speaking before practice at the SCG on Tuesday, said of Herath: "He's still fifty-fifty. He hasn't had a bowl yet. The physio has to have a look at him once again on Tuesday.

"If he bowls at practice today he'll be in contention for selection. If not, he won't be playing."

Herath's chances of featuring against South Africa appeared slim after he managed just five balls in the nets on Tuesday before consulting the physio.

If Herath is ruled out, Sri Lanka have slow bowling alternatives in the off-spin of Tillakaratne Dilshan, primarily a batsman, leg-break bowler Seekkuge Prasanna and off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake.

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