Sri Lanka v South Africa, 4th ODI, Dambulla August 27, 2004

Atapattu may miss latest match



Marvan Atapattu: planning a rest? © AFP

With the five-match one-day series already in the bag, Sri Lanka are set to rest Marvan Atapattu - their captain and matchwinner in the last game with 97 not out - and Chaminda Vaas from the fourth match at Dambulla on Saturday, a move that South Africa hope will help them break out of an eight-match losing run.

South Africa's confidence has nosedived since their draw in the opening Test at Galle, and by the end of the third one-dayer they looked a bedraggled unit, dropping simple catches and missing run-out opportunities as Sri Lanka squeezed their way to a four-wicket win to seal the series 3-0.

But Graeme Smith, South Africa's embattled skipper, believes Sri Lanka's decision to rotate their players will give his side an opportunity to bounce back and regain momentum before the forthcoming Champions Trophy in England. "They have had a long run and have won the series, but it only takes one or two games to lose the momentum you have built up," Smith told journalists. "It is important for us to go out there and get a win under our belt no matter what there team they play, to get our confidence up for the ICC Champions Trophy."

Smith admitted: "We have been making silly mistakes at crucial times and a lot of that is because we lack confidence in getting it right under pressure. We know how quickly we can turn it around, and it has got to start tomorrow."

South Africa are set to rejig their strategy once again. The experiment with pinch-hitters and a super-flexible top order is likely to be ditched, on what is expected to be another tricky pitch. They may also play Robin Peterson, a left-arm spinner, for the first time in the tour as a second spinner, possibly instead of Alan Dawson.

Sri Lanka decided to rest Atapattu and Vaas to give their reserve players valuable match practice ahead of the Champions Trophy. Lasith Malinga and Saman Jayantha are almost certain to play, while Dilhara Fernando may also make a comeback if the pitch warrants an extra quick bowler.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Avishka Gunawardene, 3 Saman Jayantha, 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 6 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 7 Upul Chandana, 8 Kaushal Lokuarachchi, 9 Nuwan Zoysa, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Lasith Malinga.

South Africa (probable): 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Jacques Rudolph, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 Jean-Paul Duminy, 6 Lance Klusener, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Shaun Pollock, 9 Nicky Boje, 10 Robin Peterson, 11 Makhaya Ntini.