The Proteas take on Sri Lanka in the second ODI at Centurion as both sides aim to build momentum for the World Cup, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The ODI series against Sri Lanka is the last competitive stretch for the Proteas before the warm-up matches begin.
The home side picked an interesting squad for the first three ODIs. Notably, Hashim Amla was left out, and it caused quite a stir in the cricket community. Everyone, including myself, put on their selector hats and made attempts at selecting their proposed XV’s for the World Cup. But let’s bounce back to reality. We need to assess the players that CSA has selected.
The XI in the first ODI came up with an eight-wicket win, thanks to a brilliant performance by the bowlers (Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi in particular) and the two star batsmen in the line-up, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock.
Reeza Hendricks, once again, botched his opportunity to impress, while Rassie van der Dussen showed us a different side to his game – playing a supporting role to see his skipper through to his ton.
Hendricks is a player that will feel the pressure the most. CSA will need to make a tough decision who to entrust as De Kock’s opening partner – Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram or Hendricks.
Another debate is who the Proteas’ second all-rounder will be. Lions teammates Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder are both competing for the batting all-rounder position, and have yet to be given the perfect opportunity to show their batting ability. I hope for the sake of selection they get a run in the middle.
Anrich Nortje is another major talking point. He bowled decently for his 1-33, but never set the world alight during the course of his seven overs. The question is whether the Proteas will trust youthful exuberance and raw pace over the experience of Dale Steyn.
These are decisions that have to be made before the fourth ODI in Port Elizabeth.
Sri Lanka showed signs of brilliance and can only improve in the next match. They proved that they have talented batsmen – Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perrera, Dhananjay de Silva and Oshada Fernando – who only need to find that extra gear to turn their half-centuries into centuries.
The Proteas should not underestimate the Sri Lankans, as the clash could prove to be a lot tighter than people think. However, I feel that supporters will be more attuned to the upcoming One-Day Cup matches in order to track the forms of JP Duminy, Amla, Markram, Heinrich Klaasen and Chris Morris.
Players to Watch
Nortje showed only a touch of what he is capable of. Every game is a trial for the 25-year-old as he competes against his role model Steyn for a seat on the plane to the UK. The Centurion track will be the perfect test for the youngster against a hungry Sri Lanka batting attack.
Niroshan Dickwella has scored three half-centuries against South Africa and boasts the best average of Sri Lanka’s top six against the home side. The wicketkeeper-batsman has an attacking mindset, specialising in sweeps, scoops and ramp shots and could provide a major challenge to the Proteas’ pace attack at SuperSport Park.
1) Reeza Hendricks
2) Quinton de Kock (wk)
3) Rassie van der Dussen
4) Faf du Plessis (c)
5) David Miller
6) Wiaan Mulder
7) Dwaine Pretorius
8) Kagiso Rabada
9) Anrich Nortje
10) Imran Tahir
11) Lungi Ngidi
1) Niroshan Dickwella (wk)
2) Upul Tharanga
3) Dhananjaya de Silva
4) Kusal Mendis
5) Oshada Fernando
6) Kusal Perera
7) Thisara Perera
8) Akila Dananjaya
9) Lasith Malinga (c)
10) Vishwa Fernando
11) Lakshan Sandakan
The match starts at 1pm on Wednesday.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images