While AB de Villiers promises no let-up in intensity, Sri Lanka will be looking to salvage pride with the series already lost
February 7, 2017: South Africa proved far too strong for Sri Lanka in the three-matchTest series, and the trend continued in the One-Day Internationals as well. Having already taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, South Africa will have their eyes trained on the bigger picture â€“ a whitewash â€“ when the fourth ODI begins in Cape Town today evening.
South Africa have won seven of their last nine series across all formatsâ€š and there have three been whitewashes among those – the T20Is against England (2-0) last Februaryâ€š the ODIs against Australia (5-0) in Octoberâ€š and the recently concluded Tests (3-0) against Sri Lanka. This is the hostsâ€™ best chance for a sweep over Sri Lanka after having secured sixth consecutive ODI series victory at home.
AB de Villiers, the South Africa captain, pressed for a clinical finish to the series, but was also wary of putting too much pressure on the side. “There were too many 3-2 results in the past and we’ve had many opportunities to win series 5-0 and 4-1,â€ he said. â€œWe are all a bit sick and tired of not taking our opportunities and we are sitting here with another opportunity. We try to be clinical about every game we play, with a bit more emphasis and importance on getting results in every single game we play and not just trying to win a series. Having said that, I don’t want to mention it too often and I don’t want to make it our main thing that we play for 5-0 whitewashes, because that can backfire quickly.”
With the series in the bag, South Africa could also use the remaining two ODIs to experiment ahead of the Champions Trophy in June. On the batting front, David Millerâ€™s finger injury forced them to play Farhaan Behardien in the third ODI Johannesburg.
While injuries to Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, even before the series began, meant South Africa were left searching for a new ball partner for Kagiso Rabada. The issue seems to have been addressed, at least temporarily, with Wayne Parnell doing well in the first two ODIs, and Dwaine Pretorious, showing enough promise in his first match of the series, at Wanderers.
Despite the first two ODIs being played on slower pitches, more suited to Sri Lankaâ€™s bowlers, it was the South African bowlers stood out with the disciplined effort. In the third ODI, South Africaâ€™s bowlers put up the best show bundling out the visitors for just 163 in 39.2 overs. Imran Tahir was miserly and menacing, but it was Pretorious, who impressed with 3 for 19 in seven overs.
In the absence of Angelo Mathews, Sri Lankaâ€™s inexperience has been exposed, especially on the batting front with totals of 181, 186 and 163 in the first three matches. Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva are playing in South Africa for the first time ever.
Despite that, Dickwella, the opener, put up a brave face, top-scoring with 74 in the third ODI, but there was little in the Wanderers surface to warrant a collapse of nine wickets for 103 runs. The onus is on the more experienced Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga to carry Sri Lankaâ€™s batting, if they are looking to salvage some pride.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Farhaan Behardien, Dwaine Pretorius, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Sri Lanka:Â Upul Tharanga (capt), Niroshan Dickwella, Sandun Weerakkody, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwal Kulasekara, Jeffrey Vandersay, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Chaturanga de Silva, Thikshila de Silva, Lahiru Madushanka, Sachith Pathirana, Isuru Udana, Seekkuge Prasanna.