South Africa v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Kimberley January 19, 2012

Sri Lanka and Smith under pressure

Match facts

January 20, Kimberley
Start time 1430 (1230 GMT)

The Big Picture

It's that time of the series, when you wish there was a mercy rule. South Africa have already ensured their trophy cabinet will have an addition, and Sri Lanka are empty handed in a fourth consecutive series since the 2011 World Cup.

After losing the World Cup final, Sri Lanka have endured a miserable nine months on the field, although they are talented and hard-working side. Despite spending nearly eight weeks in South Africa, their batsmen have not got used to the conditions or the opposition. Their bowlers have lacked the killer instinct possessed by the merciless South African attack, and the area of their game that needs the most improvement is the fielding, where the lack of energy has been alarming.

That said, Sri Lanka have improved in every ODI and will feel it's about time they were good enough. The sports ministry has asked for an inquiry into their poor performances and Tillakaratne Dilshan will have to motivate his players to put in two good showings before they head home to face the music.

With the prize already won, South Africa will want to show they can maintain their intensity. The next two matches offer them a chance to test new combinations and give the reserves a run.

Form guide

South Africa WWWLW Sri Lanka LLLLL

Watch out for …

Graeme Smith probably has two more innings to save his one-day career. With Alviro Petersen showing signs that he can take his Test form into the fifty-over format, and Hashim Amla set to return from paternity leave at the end of the series, the axe is hovering over Smith. He has shown a lack of confidence at the crease and has not been able to get going. He needs to soon to prolong his limited-overs career.

At 24, Angelo Mathews appears to have an inordinate amount of responsibility. Not only is he Sri Lanka's vice-captain but he also has to play the role of leading allrounder. He hasn't starred in either role so far. What is evident is that he has the ability to, and has two more opportunities to show South Africa his skills.

Team news …

South Africa are spoilt for choice, particularly in the bowling department. Dale Steyn will be rested for the remaining matches and Wayne Parnell will play. Vernon Philander may get the nod ahead of Morne Morkel, but Johan Botha is unlikely to replace Robin Peterson. The batting line-up will remain the same, with the No. 4 position flexible.

South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Alviro Petersen, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Robin Petersen, 9 Wayne Parnell, 10 Morne Morkel/Vernon Philander, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Mahela Jayawardene has been ruled out for the next few weeks with a back injury. Lahiru Thirimanne will play in his place, although his position in the line-up has not been decided. Sachithra Senanayake has arrived in South Africa and trained with the team, but Sri Lanka are yet to decide if two spinners is a viable option at this venue.

Sri Lanka: (probable) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), 2 Upul Tharanga, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Dhammika Prasad

Pitch and conditions

Although the ground staff left some grass on the Kimberley pitch, the sun will probably bake it into a flat wicket by match time. Temperatures are hotter than in Bloemfontein and both sides can expect to sweat.

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa have won five out of five matches in Kimberley and they chased in all of them. In their only game against Sri Lanka here, in 2002, South Africa won by 8 wickets.

  • In ten matches at this venue, the fast bowlers have taken 99 wickets at 30.56, while spinners have only 17 wickets at 58.11.


"The training has been fantastic but sometimes there is more value in not training. There is no exact science. We feel there is a bit of fatigue in the dressing room."
Gary Kirsten explains why South Africa have had some down time over the last two days.

"When you are playing against a team like South Africa, who are playing really good cricket, it's difficult for us to get on top."
Sri Lanka are struggling to match their opposition, according to Mahela Jayawardene.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent