de Villiers' time at the top starts
January 11, Paarl
Start time 14:30 (12:30 GMT)
The Big Picture
Before the Test series, the gulf in quality between the two sides seemed unbridgeable, though Sri Lanka went on to pull off one of the upsets of the decade in Durban before surrendering the series. In the one-day format, the teams are more evenly matched, as the rankings show - South Africa are third with 116 points, while Sri Lanka are fourth with 112. Also Sri Lanka's attack gets the cutting edge it lacked in the Tests with the return of Lasith Malinga, among the most feared bowlers in the limited-overs game.
While the bowling line-up of both teams is likely to be radically different from the Cape Town Test, South Africa have the added change of having a new full-time one-day captain. Graeme Smith's long reign having coming to an end, it is AB de Villiers who now takes the helm - an extra responsibility for someone who played as a specialist batsman two years ago. Now he has the MS Dhoni-like role of being captain, key batsman and wicketkeeper.
The other captain will also be under pressure, with both runs and wins proving elusive. Tillakaratne Dilshan is yet to win either a Test or major one-day series since taking over after the World Cup, and murmurs over him being replaced will only get louder if there is another mis-step this series.
Both sides have been in indifferent form in recent one-dayers. South Africa lost their only one-day series since the World Cup, going down to Australia, while Sri Lanka have failed in all their series against major opposition in that period.
Form guide(Most recent first)
South Africa LWLLW
Sri Lanka LLLWL
Watch out for...2011 was Lasith Malinga's most productive year in one-dayers so far. He topped the charts with 48 wickets, including two hat-tricks and three five-wicket hauls. On what is likely to be a batsman's track, against a formidable South African top order, Malinga's grab bag of tricks could prove pivotal to the outcome.
JP Duminy has been out of the Test side for nearly a year now, but remains an integral part of the South African one-day outfit. His ability to bat at several gears makes him a valuable part of the middle order, while his part-time offspin lends balance. His razor-sharp fielding is an added bonus.
de Villiers hinted that Wayne Parnell would miss out and that South Africa will consider two spinners for the game.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Robin Peterson, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe / Morne Morkel
The Sri Lanka top six all pick themselves, while the bowling could be very different from the Cape Town Test. Malinga is a certainty, Dilhara Fernando is fit after a knee problem that kept him out of the final Test, while Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis are also expected to play.
Sri Lanka: (probable) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera / Kosala Kulasekara, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Dilhara Fernando, 11 Ajantha Mendis
Pitch and conditions
Slow and low is the usual character of the Paarl pitch. Rory Kleinveldt, the local lad, said that he expects 280 or 290 to be a good first-innings score. It's going to be scorching day, with the temperature set to peak at 35 degrees.
Stats and trivia
- Among major teams, Sri Lanka and South Africa are the sides who have played the least cricket against each other in recent times. Since January 2005, Sri Lanka have played only seven ODIs against South Africa, while they faced India 50 times during the same period.
- de Villiers has been in fantastic form in one-dayers over the past three years, averaging 62.65 with a strike rate around 100.
For a full stats analysis, click here.
Quotes"There are spots up for grabs, the team is definitely not set."
AB de Villiers hints that the series against Sri Lanka could inform South Africa's long term ODI plans
"Every team is getting used to the two new balls strategy now. We played with those conditions against Pakistan in UAE. Everyone is used to playing with two new balls now."
Tillakaratne Dilshan does not believe two new balls will give South Africa's attack an advantage
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo