Sri Lanka hope for more Durban magic to keep series alive

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Sri Lanka will take on South Africa in the 3rd ODI of the 5-match series between the two sides in Durban, tomorrow (10th). After wins in both Johannesburg and Centurion, the Proteas lead the series 2-0.

Photos: Sri Lanka Practices ahead of 3rd ODI in Durban

Sri Lanka were handed the perfect opportunity level the series at Supersport Park in the 2nd ODI, when the bowlers put on a stellar performance to bowl the South Africans out for a below par 251. However, poor decision making on the part of the Sri Lankan batsmen saw them fall short of the target by 113 runs to hand the hosts the win.

In the 1st ODI, Sri Lanka put on an uninspiring performance with both bat and ball, but in the 2nd game, the bowlers, who had been thumped around for 70+ in the 1st 10 overs, made a commendable comeback to restrict the South Africans to 251. Thisara Perera, who has enjoyed somewhat of a magical run over the past few months, was the man who did much of the damage for the hosts, albeit picking up a few ‘lucky’ wickets. Lucky or not, Sri Lanka found a way to pick up wickets in the middle overs, something they’ve struggled with in the past and will be hoping to lock down a formula to before the World Cup.

Malinga blames batsmen for not grabbing opportunities

After a heavy 113-run defeat to hand South Africa a 2-0……….

Another positive from the 2nd ODI would be the bowling of Dhananjaya De Silva, which has been on the money during the entire tour. Skipper Lasith Malinga himself bowled well, but Sri Lanka’s performance on the field was far from perfect with the bowlers, particularly the fast men, giving away far too many freebies early on in the innings.

The visitors’ batting effort drew the ire of the skipper, who was quite openly critical of the batsmen after the game, “The batsmen have to realize, (to chase) this 250, we have to only bat 50 overs. I don’t think they have that value, the value of playing for the national team…. I don’t feel like they understood their role.”

The team had credited ‘freedom’ for their performance in the Test series and perhaps that was what they were trying to emulate in the ODIs too, however, the execution, particularly from the top order was poor, with 2-3 batsmen gifting their wickets to the hosts.

Sri Lanka are unlikely to see any changes at the top of the order, however, with the conditions likely to favor spin, they may be tempted to slot in either Kamindu Mendis or Lakshan Sandakan in place of a quick – Kasun Rajitha the likeliest to miss out if so.

Sri Lanka Probable XI: Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera, Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga ©, Akila Dananjaya, Vishwa Fernando

South Africa have won the two ODIs so far, but their performance in the 2nd one, particularly in the batting department left a lot to be desired. They do seem to be coming in one batsman short, with all-rounder Wiaan Mulder batting a little higher than you would expect at 5/6.

Reeza Hendricks would be another whose form would be a matter of concern, but with the oh so talented Aiden Markram knocking on the door for the World Cup, they still have a few options in hand.

Quinton de Kock has been in scintillating form during the entire tour but would be furious at not being able to get a single century yet, despite looking well set to do so on multiple occasions over the past month.

Imran Tahir has loved playing against Sri Lanka, and is likely to continue in the same vein in spin-friendly Durban. Tahir has been one of the main reasons why Sri Lanka have struggled during the series, with the leg spinner having no trouble putting the breaks on the visitors in the middle overs.

With the World Cup looming, South Africa are on the lookout to establish a steady starting XI and this game will be another opportunity for the fringe players to make their case.

South Africa Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir

Sri Lanka have their work cut out if they are to come back in this series, however, the South African batting has proved fragile, particularly when de Kock and du Plessis are taken out of the equation – so those two wickets will be key. But no matter how well they bowl, Sri Lanka will not go too far if they can’t get their act together with the bat, something they will be desperate to do before the World Cup.

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