Time to make it count

2014-07-09 00:00

HAVING won the first ODI on Sunday in Colombo by 75 runs, the Proteas head into today’s second encounter, a day/night clash at Pallekele, Kandy, keen to deliver the knockout punch and claim a series-winning 2-0 lead in the three-match programme.

Scoring over 300 in Colombo and looking comfortable against the Sri Lankan spinners, the Proteas definitely have the mental advantage and will want to wrap up affairs with a match in hand.

While Hashim Amla confirmed his status as one of the world’s best with bat in hand with a fine century (109) and AB de Villiers oozed class in his 75, young David Miller’s undefeated 36 from 21 balls, batting at six, confirmed his ability as a hitter in the latter stages of an innings, his effort propelling the Proteas beyond 300.

“It was a great way to start and yes, I am enjoying my role and the tour so far,” he said. “I have batted in this position for most of my career and this gives me the opportunity to cement the spot as my own and showcase my skills.

“I can only get better and learn as I progress.”

Looking at today’s venue, Miller said the Proteas expected another slow wicket that would take turn.

“This is a big ground so we expect lots of running between the wickets,” he said. “The slow wicket will make it difficult to chase and if we bat first, we obviously need to score with confidence. Likewise, if we bowl, we need to make them work for their runs and bat positively.”

Having lost the previous One-Day series in Sri Lanka, the Proteas have something to prove and this is the ideal platform to make it count.

“It’s great being one-nil to the good in a three-match series and it means Sri Lanka have to try to take the initiative from us,” said Miller. “It all adds up to what is a vital match for both sides, one trying to win the series, the other trying to get back in.”

It looks as if the Proteas will go into the match with the same winning combination from Sunday, although many supporters in SA will be rooting for Jacques Kallis to come good with the bat.

Having called time on his Test career at the end of last year, he has remained part of the Protea ODI set-up and obviously has his eye on having one final attempt at getting his hands on the ICC World Cup trophy, the only achievement missing from his incredible cricket CV.

He came in at number three on Sunday and lasted two balls, trapped LBW by spinner Ajantha Mendis, hit plumb in front on the back leg. He needs to perform ahead of next year’s World Cup, otherwise his dream could be in tatters.

Kandy as a venue though, has been good to the Proteas, as this was where they registered their only victory on their last visit in 2013.

However, they have never won back-to-back ODI matches in Sri Lanka and they will have to be wary of Tillakaratne Dishan, who has an amazing record of five hundreds in 10 innings on the ground, amassing 682 runs at 97.42.

Miller though, scored an undefeated 85 in the 56-run win at the venue last year, but he does not under-estimate the home side.

“They will come at us hard and stronger than in the first game. For us, it’s about the basics and doing things right.”

Today’s match is on SuperSport 2 and HD2 from 10.45 am.

South Africa (probable): Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Ryan McLaren, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

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