Proteas will fight for final Sri Lanka ODI

2013-07-31 00:00

THERE are definitely two distinctive approaches to today’s fifth and final ODI between the Proteas and Sri Lanka in Colombo, a venue where the Proteas lost the opening two matches of the series.

On one side of the coin are the victorious hosts, 3-1 up in the series, keen to blood some new players while giving some of the more seasoned campaigners a rest, and on the other, are a team searching for answers and desperate to find the right formula as far as team dynamic is concerned.

Although it’s a “dead” encounter as far as Proteas supporters are concerned, skipper AB de Villiers said his team will give their all to end on a positive note and record a 3-2 loss rather than a 4-1 drubbing.

“There is still a match to be won and we as a team have much to gain despite having lost the series,” he said.

“We have only won a single match to date and have a point to prove to our supporters and ourselves as a team. A win will give the T20 side — who have three matches, the first on Friday — the confidence they need as well.”

It’s been a tough tour for De Villiers, leading a team inexperienced at playing on the sub-continent and minus three towering stalwarts in Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis (both rested) and Graeme Smith (injured).

However, De Villiers acknowledged that poor batting against the Sri Lankan spin had been the main factor in his team’s performances. “Sri Lanka have had two batsmen make centuries and others making big scores, while we have struggled to get big runs and partnerships,” he said. “We have the batsmen to produce the goods and they need to have belief and back themselves. They take pride in their performances and will want to end on a positive note.”

Indeed, De Villiers will want to spend some time in the middle working on his own form. A total of 86 runs at an average of 21,50 is well below his capabilities and with pride hanging over his head, he could produce the goods, although it wouldn’t really count for much.

On the bowling front, the Proteas have not been successful with a strong spin attack, JP Duminy, Aaron Phangiso and Robin Peterson taking six wickets to date between them, and will likely rely on the quicks to do the job. “We tried to take them on at their own game instead of using what works for us. For this game, we will have four seamers and use JP [Duminy] as the spinner,” said De Villiers.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have rested spinner Rangana Herath, speedster Lasith Malinga and batsman Mahela Jayawardene, while Kusal Perera gets another chance to open the innings. Angelo Perera could play his second match of the series while Shaminda Eranga and Sachithra Senanayake look likely to get a game.

The Proteas will be hoping to build on the platform created in the last match when they were 110-1 after 20 overs, before meekly rolling over for 238 in the 49th over. Hashim Amla will look to bolster the top order and build on his only innings of 77 in the last match, and if David Miller and JP Duminy click, a total of well beyond 250 could be likely.

One man who definitely needs time in the middle is Faf du Plessis, who has failed in every match. He would do well to use this opportunity as he prepares to lead the Proteas in the T20 series.

The match starts at 11 am (SA time).

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