Your essential guide to the third ODI between the Proteas and Sri Lanka at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

Scene-setter

The Proteas’ full focus will be on a series win, and beating Sri Lanka in the third ODI will ensure that and give them time to experiment in the last two matches.

The visitors were dominant in the first two ODIs, displaying a lethal and cohesive bowling performance along with solid individual performances with the bat as well as some valuable partnerships. With the players they have at their disposal, the Proteas still have the potential to shift up a gear or two as, while they have shown signs of being an extremely dangerous outfit, they have yet to be truly ruthless in this series.

The Proteas appear to have settled on a trusted XI, although there are still question marks hovering over certain players as they start to mould their perfect World Cup XI. Some question marks hang over the batting lineup, and the ODIs have yet to test the Proteas’ batsmen fully, although they have had the pressure of twice having to chase runs after losing the toss. It will be interesting to see how the Proteas perform if they get first chance to bat. The Sri Lankan bowlers might be in for a torrid time.

Sri Lanka has struggled to cope with the Proteas seam attack, and this time around, they don’t have three world-class spinners to cover their tracks as they did in the Test series. The pitches prepared for the ODIs have made it harder for Sri Lanka to dominate with spin and, consequently, it has made it easier for the Proteas’ seam attack to pounce.

The hosts have shown signs of being a dangerous side but have yet to find consistency in ODIs. In fact, they have lost nine home matches on the trot, as well as losing eight series and drawing one out of their last 10 bilateral ODI series.

Sri Lanka’s desperation to find their first win at home since July 2017 – and the Proteas’ hunger to repay the hosts for their humiliation in the Test series – is cause for a thrilling encounter in Kandy.

Players to watch

There have been some issues in the Proteas batting unit.

Aiden Markram’s first taste of subcontinent top-flight cricket has not gone as planned. It is evident that he has been struggling to cope with spin on difficult wickets. The 23-year-old needs a good performance with the bat, especially after a tough Test series. He needs to press the reset button and focus on what has always worked for him in the shorter formats – a measured attacking approach. His run in ODIs has been far from acceptable, but shifting him around in the batting lineup has not helped the cause. He has averaged 21.77 in his nine ODIs, with his highest score being the 66 he scored against Bangladesh on his debut.

Hashim Amla has uncharacteristically struggled in Sri Lanka this time out. It seemed as if he found his groove in the second ODI, but the veteran could only manage 43 in a solid 91-run partnership with Quinton de Kock, before losing his wicket. The 33-year-old has struggled to cope with the new ball of late and needs a solid performance to reassure selectors that he can still dominate attacks while batting at the top of the order.

David Miller has a lot to prove. Twice the 29-year-old came to the crease with the game all but done… and twice he failed to help the Proteas cross the line. He needs a solid performance to shake off any doubts about his position in the side, especially with Heinrich Klaasen and Reeza Hendricks waiting in the wings.

In Sri Lanka’s side, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera have managed to impress thus far but the trick will be for all four of them to fire in the same match. The hosts could also do with a standout performance from just one of their bowlers.

Stats pack

– Sri Lanka have lost their last 10 ODIs against the Proteas.
– De Kock is six runs away from reaching the 4,000-run mark in ODIs. Having already batted 91 times in ODIs, he could become the fourth fastest to the milestone behind Joe Root (91 innings), Vivian Richards (88) and Amla (81).
– The Proteas have played Sri Lanka three times at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. Sri Lanka won the last two in July 2014. The Proteas won the first encounter in July 2013.
– Amla has previously scored a century on this ground, making 101 in the Proteas’ 87-run defeat in 2014.

Probable XI

Proteas XI

1. Hashim Amla
2. Quinton de Kock
3. Aiden Markram
4. Faf du Plessis (c)
5. JP Duminy
6. David Miller
7. Wiaan Mulder
8. Andile Phehlukwayo
9. Kagiso Rabada
10. Tabraiz Shamsi
11. Lungi Ngidi

Sri Lanka XI

1. Niroshan Dickwella
2. Upul Tharanga
3. Kusal Mendis
4. Kusal Perera
5. Angelo Mathews (c)
6. Thisara Perera
7. Shehan Jayasuriya
8. Akila Dananjaya
9. Suranga Lakmal
10. Lakshan Sandakan
11. Lahiru Kumara

The third ODI starts on Sunday at 6:30am SAST. 

Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

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