Battered Sri Lanka Aim To Keep Series Alive

February 04, 2017

When Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford told the media after Wednesday's heavy defeat to South Africa that he had been "excited" by some of the things he had seen, he might well have elicited a few raised eyebrows. Sri Lanka had once again been blown away, with their batsmen extending their run of innings without a century on the tour to 11.

The point Ford was making was that his young side need time to develop, and that at least the batsmen had managed some starts. The question is how long Sri Lankan supporters - and even the neutrals looking for a decent contest - can bear to watch such mismatches. Another one in the third ODI at the Wanderers on Saturday (February 4) would not only see South Africa wrap up the series at the first opportunity, but see even more people tune out.

The tourists did at least put South Africa under some pressure with the ball in the second game, only to be put back in their place with disheartening ease by the home side's formidable batting line-up. "That's as close to as good as we can bat," AB de Villiers admitted afterwards. "Even four-down and under pressure, we showed that whatever happens we can come back from that and score 300 on a wicket that was a bit two-paced at times but generally pretty good. I thought it was a 10 out of 10 batting performance from where we were."

Such impregnability does not bode well for Sri Lanka, even if South Africa have lost David Miller to a finger injury. While the visitors have failed to score a century on tour, only de Villiers is yet to achieve the feat among South Africa's top five and his record at the Wanderers means he may not have to wait much longer.

The South African captain also enjoys playing in pink, which is what South Africa will be doing on Saturday. The Wanderers will also be decked out in pink and the crowd are encouraged to follow suit - all in the name of breast cancer awareness. The Pink Day ODI has not only raised a good deal of money, but has also drawn fans through the turnstiles since its inception in 2013.

Another sold-out stadium awaits the players this year.

What: South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 3rd One-Day International, February 4, 2017, 01:30 PM LOCAL, 05:00 PM IST

When: Saturday, February 4. 13:30 local time, 17:00 IST.

Where: The Wanderers, Johannesburg.

What to expect: After two slow pitches, the teams will return to the speed and bounce of the highveld. De Villiers expects it to be a "really good ODI wicket", which suggests it will be better for batting and should have some grass on it. The forecast suggests fine weather throughout.

Team News

South Africa: De Villiers confirmed that Farhaan Behardien will replace the injured David Miller for the game. He also rated the current attack as the best at South Africa's disposal right now, which means they are unlikely to make any further changes for this game. Should the series be wrapped up at the earliest opportunity, they may well give some players a rest for the last two matches.

Sri Lanka: The tourists took a 'horses for courses' approach in Durban, picking two left-arm spinners, and could take a similar approach for the Wanderers. If they do, then fast bowlers Lahiru Kumara and Lahiru Madushanka could make their ODI debuts on a more seam-friendly track.

What they said:

"First of all we would like to win the series here, but then we would also like to get conditions that are similar to what we will get in the Champions Trophy in England. This Wanderers wicket looks like a really good ODI wicket that will provide a good contest between bat and ball. We'll have to look after the new ball in the first 10 or 15 overs." - AB de Villiers.

"This South African side is a brilliant one-day side. They beat the No. 1-ranked side, Australia, 5-0 just the other day, so it's not an easy task. It has been a long and tough tour and I think we expected that. For some of the guys it's a bit of a jolt to come and see just how tough it is to play in South African conditions." - Graham Ford.

Did you know?

- South Africa are yet to lose a game when they've played in pink. Since the Pink ODI concept was born in 2013, the Proteas have beaten Pakistan (34 runs), India (141 runs), West Indies (148 runs) and England (1 wicket).

- Sri Lanka were the last team to beat South Africa at the Wanderers, when they chased down a target of 313 to win by two wickets. Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal and Nuwan Kulasekara were all in the Sri Lankan team that day.

- AB de Villiers' record in pink games is, frankly, scary. In the four ODIs to date he has struck 390 runs at an average of 97.50. The highlight was his record-shattering 149 off 44 balls against West Indies two years ago.

- Faf du Plessis will make his 100th ODI appearance, six years after he made his debut against India at Newlands in the lead-up to the 2011 World Cup.

Teams (from):

South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi

Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Kumara, Lahiru Madushanka, Asela Gunaratne, Sandun Weerakkody, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Kusal Mendis, Chaturanga de Silva, Sachith Pathirana, Lakshan Sandakan, Vikum Sanjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay.


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