They will be keen to turn things around in the fourth ODI at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
While Sri Lanka secured a historic triumph over the Proteas in the Test series, they have been unable to replicate that form in the ODIs so far. The visitors have not only struggled to put up a commanding total – their highest score has been the 231 from their first ODI – but also picked up just 17 wickets across three games.
They will rely on Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis and Thisara Perera, who have amassed 272 runs between them in the middle order. While all three have got starts in the series so far, they have been unable to convert them into big, match-winning knocks. The trio will want to change that in the fourth ODI.
No Sri Lankan bowler has picked up more than two wickets in an innings in the series so far. Bowlers such as Lasith Malinga, Akila Dananjaya and Perera will be expected to step up to create more impact.
South Africa had brought in the experienced JP Duminy, Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram for the last two games. This would have only bolstered the batting unit, which is currently being led by an in-form Quinton de Kock. The opener has scores of 81, 94 and 121 in the series so far.
However, Amla will not join the squad and miss the remainder of the series on compassionate leave.
“Hashim has asked to be excused from the last two ODI’s of the current series against Sri Lanka on compassionate grounds since his father is critically ill. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hashim and his family during this difficult time and we understand that family obligations always come first,” said South Africa team manager Mohammed Moosajee.
The hosts have recalled Reeza Hendricks, who played in the first three ODIs, to join the squad in Amla’s place ahead of the fourth game.
With a century and a fifty, skipper Faf du Plessis has also done his bit. Lungi Ngidi has been among the wickets, claiming six scalps including returns of 3/60 in the first game.
Anrich Nortje, the right-arm seamer, impressed with three wickets in the last two games, in his first tryst with international cricket. Du Plessis has hinted that Nortje will get another opportunity in the last two games, which means the pacer will get a chance to make a case for himself ahead of ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.
While there is thunderstorm predicted in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, the forecast shows clear skies for the next day. St George’s Park will not offer a completely flat surface. The last time an ODI was played here, South Africa scored 266 in the first innings against Pakistan, who won the game with just five balls to spare.
SOUTH AFRICA: Faf du Plessis (c), Reeza Hendricks, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen
SRI LANKA: Lasith Malinga (c), Avishka Fernando, Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Angelo Perera, Oshada Fernando, Kamindu Mendis, Priyamal Perera, Isuru Udana, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan.