South Africa vs Sri Lanka: First ODI Preview

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South Africa and Sri Lanka will now focus their attention to the first ODI which is set to take place at St. George's Park. 

Following a disappointing T20 series, a much stronger South African ODI squad will look to bounce back in the first match at St. George’s Park.

Can AB de Villiers inspire the hosts to victory or will the visitors carry the momentum they gained from the T20 series into the ODI segment of the tour? Let’s check it out:

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South Africa vs Sri Lanka | Saturday 28 January | St. George's Park, PE | 10:30

To Win Match
South Africa 2/9 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 7/2

South Africa 
The Proteas look in much better shape with the big guns returning to the side following the three T20 internationals. Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and Tabraiz Shamsi come into the squad.

Already the top order looks a million times stronger than it did in the T20s. De Kock, du Plessis and Amla will add experience and guile to a side that battled against a mediocre Sri Lankan team in the T20s. At the very least they should be able to set a better platform for the likes of Duminy, de Villiers and David Miller to launch from later on – and we all know how destructive these guys can be when they get going at the back end of an innings.

While the top and middle order pretty much picks itself, it’s the selection of the bowlers and all-rounders where things get interesting. Chris Morris returns to the national squad for the first time since his injury. He’ll be competing with Andile Phelukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Farhaan Behardien and Wayne Parnell for three spots in all likelihood.

Lungi Ngidi plays if he’s fit, as I think the selectors and coaching staff want to prepare him for the rigours of international cricket – something he looks more than ready for following his exploits in the T20s. Kagiso Rabada will spearhead the attack as his stock continues to rise while Tahir and Shamsi may both crack the nod in Port Elizabeth where spin is often king.

All in all, the returning senior players make this South Africans a much more formidable unit than they were in the T20s. They should have more than enough to get past the Sri Lankans in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankans have been forced into a few changes heading into ODI segment of the tour. With Angelo Matthews having returned home with injury, Upal Tharanga will captain the side for the five matches.

This comes as somewhat of a surprise as many expected Dinesh Chandimal to continue captaining in the limited overs matches in the absence of Matthews. That said, Tharanga is vastly experienced at this level having played 193 ODIs with a batting average 33.06. He’s no mug and will look to weather the early storm at the top of the order to give his side every chance of winning.

I feel that the key or Sri Lanka at St. George’s Park will be the performance of Lakshan Sandakan. The mystery left-arm spinner will pose a pretty big threat on a wicket that’s likely to turn a bit. The performance of Nuwan Kulasekara will also be key. He’s likely to lead the attack and will be looking to emulate his performance in the third T20 where his four overs only went for just 30 runs.

It’ll be a different story bowling at South Africa’s big guns, though. A formidable top order will look to punish a bowling attack that without Sandakan, looks a bit weak. It’ll be quite a feat if they can grab a win in PE this weekend, although that’s very unlikely. The Proteas (at full strength) are a much better side.

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Verdict: South Africa 2/9
Not much value here but I simply don’t see any other result unless the game is affected by rain. You can be fairly confident in South Africa landing a pretty big win here. 

Value Bet: Upal Tharanga to top score for Sri Lanka at 4/1
Tharanga will be fired up after being named as the ODI captain and will be desperately keen to make his mark against South Africa. He’s a patient ODI batsman and his career strike rate of 73 highlights this. His 13 100’s and 30 50’s also highlight an excellent talent – 4/1 is a big price! Get on!

Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.

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