South Africa v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Johannesburg January 21, 2012

Final chance for Dilshan the captain?


Match facts

January 22, Johannesburg
Start time 1000 (0800 GMT)

The Big Picture

It is hard to believe that less than ten months ago, Sri Lanka were World Cup finalists. After the heartbreak of April 2, 2011, they have lost series to England, Australia, Pakistan and now South Africa. Tillakaratne Dilshan's helpless, yet inwardly hurting, visage has been a common sight in all those defeats. Sunday's game could be Dilshan's last as Sri Lanka captain. There have been calls back home to sack him as leader. Some even want him to be dropped from the side. They want change.

What is being forgotten is that it is not only Dilshan who has failed. Sri Lanka's senior batsmen have consistently failed. Their fast bowlers have picked up more injuries than wickets. The hunt for a match-winning spinner continues. To hold Dilshan responsible for all these failures is to ask the world of what was only a stop-gap appointment.

It hasn't helped that leadership does not come to Dilshan as naturally as attacking batting does. The only way he knew was to lead by example, and on that count, he has definitely failed. Even more revealing than a disappointing batting average of 19.95 has been his bowling return of three wickets at 129.33. Dilshan the bowler was Sri Lanka's partnership breaker. Dilshan the captain has turned Dilshan the bowler into a default Plan B. When the wickets are not coming, he brings himself on. When the runs are flowing, he brings himself on. It shows cluelessness, it shows desperation, and it hasn't worked.

Dilshan finally put it together in the fourth ODI with an innings that seemed to have shaken off the shackles binding him. Sri Lanka took the cue from their captain and an uninhibited Thisara Perera blazed them to their first win of the series. If this indeed turns out to be Dilshan's final game as captain, he would want his side to play like he has throughout his career. Without apprehension.

Sri Lanka's struggles have made AB de Villiers' first series as captain much easier than he would have thought. There were signs of panic, though, when Perera started to hit out. Suddenly, the fielding came down several notches, catches were spilled and de Villiers lost control over proceedings. He admitted after the game to have erred tactically. There will be time for him to learn on the job. A win in South Africa's final game of the home summer season would not be a bad start on the learning curve.

Form guide

South Africa LWWWL
Sri Lanka WLLLL

Watch out for …

The under-pressure Graeme Smith made only his second half-century in 17 innings in Kimberley. At the very least, his 68 has silenced the critics till Sunday. Another failure will renew the calls for him to be dropped from the limited-overs side. South Africa's Test captain can do without such added pressure ahead of the tours of New Zealand and England. He needs one more meaty performance tomorrow.

For a proud performer who has looked in supreme touch in the previous two matches, Kumar Sangakkara's 77 runs for the series don't do him justice. He was run-out after a mix-up in Bloemfontein while what should have been a six was turned into a catch by Alviro Petersen in Kimberley. Will he have better luck in Johannesburg?

Team news

Robin Peterson has taken only four wickets in four games and hasn't been able to squeeze the flow of runs as well. South Africa have run out of reasons to deny Johan Botha, a better batsman than Peterson, a place in the XI. Albie Morkel was "rested" for the fourth ODI after having bowled ten overs in three games. Both Albie and Botha could play tomorrow. That will mean Vernon Philander and Peterson sit out.

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 Johan Botha, 9 Wayne Parnell, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Sri Lanka would not want to tinker with the XI that won in Kimberley. That means the offspinner Sachithra Senanayake could get another game ahead of Dhammika Prasad.

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 Sachithra Senanayake/Dhammika Prasad

Pitch and conditions

The Wanderers will have a pitch with more bounce than any of the four venues where the ODIs have been played. Sri Lanka don't enjoy bounce; South Africa do.

Johannesburg has had quite a bit of rain of late and there is a chance of thunderstorms tomorrow.

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa have lost their previous two completed one-dayers at The Wanderers, the latter by one run to India a year ago

  • With 191 runs at an average of 63.66, Dinesh Chandimal has been Sri Lanka's best batsman of the series


"We want to finish strongly. 2-3 will be a fantastic result considering how we started this series."
Tillakaratne Dilshan hasn't forgotten Sri Lanka's horror evening in Paarl

"We spoke about ruthlessness before this game [Kimberley] but we weren't that ruthless. We wanted a whitewash but we didn't do that. We want to make it 4-1 now."
AB de Villiers

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dim on January 23, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Hats off for Dilshan for taking the captaincy knowing the challenge of post Murali era when other senior members did not have nerves to take it over.

  • rahul on January 22, 2012, 8:39 GMT


  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    Mahela for captaincy? He doesn't even deserve to hold a place in the team right now. Not even a great captain as talked up. Clueless against a rampaging Gilchrist in 2007WC and kept throwing Dilhara at him. Sanath, Vaas , Murali et al helped him with win record. As for Dilshan, Mahela and Sanga joined him late in England. After everybody collapsed in Cardiff, Dilshan led from the front at Lord's and was unfortunate to get injured. Then he had to press on with bowlers not worth mention and batsmen firing sporadically.

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    Every good player cant be a good captain but a good captain can also be a good player.If TM Dilshan sacked as a captain than a youngster should be be given a chance and give him a proper vision that you have to achieve it.

  • Amal on January 22, 2012, 6:35 GMT

    @TuanMohomedSr, if you say it was ABs errors won the match for SL, I would say Dilshan's errors won first three ODIs for saffers.

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    All criticize Dilshans captaincy but wen we look back its mahela, sanga and mathews who failed it for us, we have to admit that this balling unit we have nw is the weakest balling unit we got from 80s', and we look at Dilshans performances 1st ODI - He got out as all got out 4 jst 43 - no one can blame him for that performance 2nd ODI - gt run out, a milisecond error any one can thet that type of erors, in onther day it can be safely home run.(I only blame sanga for dat lost) 3rd ODI - He got start made 33 runs( Operners made 94 run stand middle order bid names failed agani and D/L to b blame) 4th ODI - He made fine 87 (how can u blame

    And we all know wen mahela captaining side hes not in his best at all considering individual individual performances, his current form either not great y would we pressurize him with a captaincy while hes out of form.

  • Rifath on January 22, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    There is no doubt Mahela or Sanga should lead SL for success. Dilshan is a good One day player who should continue to play the national side. SLC has given enough Test/One Day to Dilshan's Captaincy to prove he is capable to handle it but unfortunately he did not. So I feel it is the correct decision of SLC to look forward for the betterment of SL Cricket.

  • Amila on January 22, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    "When the wickets are not coming, he brings himself on. When the runs are flowing, he brings himself on." and also in the last game when the wickets are coming and the SA was struggling he brought himself on and let SA escape from the strangle whole :( This is what we want Dilshan out of the Captaincy simply because we want to stop him from bowling....

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    I do not agree with anyone who wants to drop Dilshan from the Team but as Captain yes as he will be more responsible in his batting than his captaining for example how Sachin failed during his career as captain of India and later after the captaincy was taken away he did well. Dilshan is a good batsman, fielder, bowler and a wicket keeper too but now given the captaincy is too much for him to concentrate on his abilities.

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 5:34 GMT

    If SL concentrating on WC 2015 than SLC need more changes also Angie is not the captain module now he will do it Latter after completing another two or three series.. now SLC need is temporary Leader who can handover the job to some one Latter ... that Captain is Sanga no one else

  • No featured comments at the moment.