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Kaminu Mendis

Overpowering South Africa aim for series sweep

SA v SL, 5th ODI, preview

Sri Lanka have issues on the field and off the field to get past as they seek to put behind a string of defeats in the fifth and final one-day international on Saturday, 16 March

Overview

South Africa v Sri Lanka 
5th ODI
Newlands, Cape Town
Saturday, 15 March; 01:00pm local, 11:00am GMT

Sri Lanka are falling into a familiar trench. They’ve lost four successive games this series. They’ve been bowled out each time they’ve played a full innings. And the board is likely to bring in some reforms.

Ashley de Silva, the chief executive officer, is scheduled to arrive in South Africa for talks with the head coach Chandika Hathurusingha. Hathurusingha has been asked to return home ahead of the Twenty20 International series, with fielding coach Steve Rixon to take over. It isn't the best atmosphere so close to a World Cup.

Chandika Hathurusingha has been asked to report back to Sri Lanka before the T20I series commences
Chandika Hathurusingha has been asked to report back to Sri Lanka before the T20I series commences

So as things stand, with two months to go for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019, Sri Lanka are on an eight-match losing streak, have won one of their last 13 completed ODIs, and haven’t won a game in this format since October last year.

The source of these issues has been right at the top. In four ODIs this series, Sri Lanka’s opening partnership has totalled 48 runs and hasn’t crossed 13.

Upul Tharanga, the senior opener, has bagged a pair of single-digit scores in the two matches he has played. Niroshan Dickwella has averaged 24.5 in six ODIs this year. Newcomer Avishka Fernando has, in fact, shown the most promise, with scores of 23 and 29, but it has amounted for little in the face of the rest of the line-up’s failures.

Sri Lanka’s two best batsmen have been Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando, and between them, they have 251 runs. That’s just three more than the tally of South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who is himself almost 100 runs behind top-scorer Quinton de Kock.

De Kock has underpinned South Africa’s dominance with his relentless run accumulation. With scores of 81, 94, 121 and 51, this has been de Kock’s most productive series, bettering the 2013-14 home series against India, where he struck three successive hundreds.

De Kock has been complemented well by du Plessis, and together, they have amassed 595 runs – that’s 59% of the runs South Africa have made this series.

Upul Tharanga's experience of playing in South African conditions hasn't helped him or his team
Upul Tharanga's experience of playing in South African conditions hasn't helped him or his team

South Africa’s decision to rest Dale Steyn to try out some of their younger talent has worked well, with Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada taking 18 wickets between them, while Imran Tahir has spun a web around the Sri Lankan batsmen with 7/84 in 24 overs.

The last time Sri Lanka played an ODI series in South Africa, they were swept 5-0. Barring a significant turnaround, the visitors risk the same fate again.

Key players

Anrich Nortje (South Africa): The right-arm pacer has had big shoes to fill, playing ahead of veteran Steyn. But he has impressed in his debut series, with six scalps at 19.16. He has gone at 5.22 an over and strikes once every 22 balls. Those are promising numbers this early in his career.

Nortje has slotted in perfectly since breaking into the national side
Nortje has slotted in perfectly since breaking into the national side

Kusal Mendis (Sri Lanka): Mendis is both technically and temperamentally Sri Lanka’s most sound player. The big score has eluded him so far, but he is Sri Lanka’s most adept batsman, who could be relied on to try and bring some respectability into their performance.

Conditions

The last three ODIs at Newlands have had three 300-plus scores. The team batting first has won two of them. Weather is expected to remain clear for the game.

Squads

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