South Africa will look to wrap up the series when they take on Sri Lanka at the Wanderers on Saturday.
2-0 up and cruising – the South African camp will be more than satisfied with the side’s performance in the opening two ODIs in Port Elizabeth and Durban.
The focus will now switch to the Wanderers, a ground where the last team to inflict defeat on the Proteas was indeed Sri Lanka. Can the Asians replicate the performance of 2012 or will the South Africans continue their dominance in this series? Let’s take a look:
South Africa vs Sri Lanka | Saturday 4 February | The Wanderers, Johannesburg | 13:30
To Win Match
South Africa 1/9 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 6/1
The Proteas have been immaculate so far this series, batting Sri Lanka out of each of the last two ODIs. Faf du Plessis and David Miller shone in Durban with the two getting excellent hundreds. Unfortunately for South Africa, Miller has been ruled out of the rest of the series with a finger injury he picked up while fielding in Durban.
Miller’s absence could mean that Dwaine Pretorius cracks the nod for the first time in this series. The Lions all-rounder has done well with both bat and ball in the three First Class games he’s played this season. He should fit in quite nicely and will be keen to play at his home ground.
Bowling wise, the South Africans have nor real issues to talk of. Wayne Parnell has grabbed his opportunity with both hands while Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Andile Phelukwayo have all been solid.
Imran Tahir has been the star of the series, though. The Pakistan-born leg-spinner continues to see his stock rise, even at the ripe old age of 37. He’s bamboozled the Sri Lankan batsmen with his variations and has started to consistently land the ball in the right places. He no longer gives away any freebie – a statement backed up by the fact that he’s only conceded a boundary in the entire ODI segment of the series.
Where to now for Sri Lanka? The islanders have been comprehensively beaten on two occasions now and have shown very little in the way of fight in Durban and Port Elizabeth – the two grounds where you’d expect the Asians to be most comfortable.
They’ll now have to deal with the Wanderers deck which has been made famous over the years for its pace and bounce. How well the Sri Lankan batsmen face up to the threat of the South African quicks will go a long in determining the result of Saturday’s match.
Graham Ford will take heart from the fact that everyone in the top and middle order – with the exception of Dhananjaya de Silva – got starts. They just needed two or three guys to kick on and get big scores. That responsibility will need to fall on the shoulders of Upal Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis.
If none of those three fire with the bat, we’re more than likely going to see another heavy Sri Lankan defeat. Bowling wise, the visitors look a bit better. Nuwan Kulasekara and Suranga Lakmal are economical while Lakshan Sandakan can be deadly if the wicket turns – which isn’t really likely.
All in all, the key to a Sri Lankan victory lies in the hands of Tharanga, Chandimal and Mendis. If none of these guys get going, on what should prove to be pretty good batting conditions, then the visitors are likely to get stomped once again.
Verdict: South Africa 1/9
I don’t think anyone in the global cricket fraternity – not even the Sri Lankans – can see South Africa losing this match. The Proteas have downed far stronger opposition at the Wanderers in recent years.
Value Bet: Upal Tharanga to top-score for Sri Lanka at 45/10
Tharanga looked far more comfortable at the top of the order in Durban than he did in the middle order in Port Elizabeth. He’s a quality batsman who has scored plenty of runs opening the batting for his country. He also seems to be relishing the chance of captaining his country – even if his over rate was pretty poor is the last ODI. Get on at 45/10.