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Point to prove in SL - Duminy

Firdose Moonda

June 27, 2014

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JP Duminy smashes one to the leg side, India v South Africa, World T20, semi-final, Mirpur, April 4, 2014
JP Duminy has said that he is prepared to bat up the order for South Africa if needed © AFP
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Even though next year's World Cup will be played in conditions completely different to what South Africa will experience from next week, they head to Sri Lanka with a "point to prove", according to JP Duminy. This time last year, South Africa were thumped 4-1 in an ODI series on the island- their biggest defeat in a bilateral series away from home since 2004 in New Zealand- and the memory of that humbling still stings.

"It is going to be a tough ask for us but I am confident we can make some inroads. We've got a nice squad going there. Because we are starting with one-dayers, it's important for us to start well," Duminy said at South Africa's fitness camp in Pretoria last week.

The magnitude of the task is not lost on Duminy. South Africa have only won two of the 16 ODIs they have played in Sri Lanka, one in 1993 and the other 20 years later in 2013. They have the same number of Test victories, although from fewer fixtures, 10. Sri Lanka is also the last place where South Africa lost a Test series away from home, eight years ago.

"Last year we didn't have Test matches there so that's going to be an important aspect for us especially because we've lost the No.1 Test ranking. We have a bit of a point to prove in getting that back," Duminy said.

South Africa slipped a fraction below Australia when the ICC's annual rankings update was done in May, but the team can regain their crown with a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka. Given Sri Lanka's excellent form in 2014 and that South Africa's new-look team will be without the experience of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, Duminy expects people to underestimate South Africa's chances of doing that and he thinks it could be just what the they need to spring a surprise.

"It's a great thing if teams think that we are vulnerable. If they have that sort of mindset coming into the game, it gives us an opportunity to prove them wrong."

With South Africa anxious to show what they are capable of, it will come as good news to them that conditions in Sri Lanka have changed from the last time South Africa played Test cricket there. The absence of Muttiah Muralitharan has lessened the need for the raging turner and with Sri Lanka's pace battery promising much, the pitches may be less difficult for South Africa to negotiate.

That will be particularly good news for Duminy, who was one of the batsman who struggled against spin early in his career but is something he feels he has overcome.

"Having that spin issue is something I have put behind me. I have improved a lot," he said. "I can't pinpoint exactly what the technical issue was because it has been three or four years but I am confident facing spin now. I have got good game plans facing spinners. The preparation has been important for me. And I suppose the experience in the IPL has helped as well because I was able to play in sub-continental conditions and face different kinds of spinners."

Instead, Duminy will hope to put a positive spin on the art, with his bowling. Although South Africa have two specialist spinners in their squad in Imran Tahir and Dane Piedt, it is likely that only one will feature in the starting XI, with Duminy as the back-up. "My bowling has been going really well especially from a shorter format point of view, and it is about contributing a lot more, especially in Tests," he said.

Duminy may even find himself batting a place higher than his usal No.7, with Dean Elgar moving up to open and the possibility of an additional bowler being included.

"If the opportunity to bat higher presents itself, I am not going to say no but for now I am happy to be in the side and settled in the team wherever I bat.

"Batting at No.7 is a case of marshalling that lower order but having Vernon [Philander] at No.8 has been great for South African cricket. He is now ranked the No.1 all-rounder in the world and to have him at No.8 and Dale at No.9 - he's no mug with the bat, has been a great help. It's not that you have to marshal them too much, it is just a case of holding up your end and making sure you understand that it's a partnership."

Before Duminy can get to that, he will focus on the three ODIs, for which South Africa will have a full week to prepare for what will be a season focused on the fifty-over game. South Africa have scheduled 24 ODIs before next year's World Cup and will use them to fine-tune combinations and settle into what coach Russell Domingo has termed a "pattern of play," as their search for ICC silverware continues.

Duminy does not think there is that much work to be done before they are ready for the big event. "We are pretty settled in terms of the top order. It's just about getting the combinations right in the middle to lower order. The guys have a fair idea of where we want to go," he said. "The key is to understand what your end goal is but also identifying what your short goals are and make sure you meet them leading up to the end goal, which is winning the fifty-over World Cup. If we can meet short-term goals, we will give ourselves a good chance."

If South Africa can start with victory in the one place where it has largely eluded them, Duminy will be satisfied that at least one point has been proven along the way.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by sidh78 on (July 4, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

Sl pitches are flatest in the world.thats why above 900 runs in a inning scored in SL.wow!! also even bangaladesh batsmans score near 600 runs in a inning in SL.this shows the quality of pitches in SL.thats why most test matches in sl ended in draw.but indian pitches are spining and turning but initialy good for batting & fast seam bowling.thats why in last 30 test matches played in india, 27 matches gave result.

Posted by   on (June 30, 2014, 12:06 GMT)

Sri Lanka must be itching to get out and thrash the Proteas attack during the ODIs. Vernon Philander will be cannon fodder for the Lankans. Without swing he is just an up and down bowler. Even Dale Steyn can prove to be expensive with his length balls during death overs in ODIs. Recently, MSD, Yusuf Pathan and his very own countryman Ab de villiers had feasted on his bowling. Even in the tests, since the South Africans lack a good spinner and are poor exponents of reverse swing, they will struggle. The tests will be a true test for the likes of Vernon Philander. I am looking forward to a sound thrashing of the South Africans in the ODIs.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 30, 2014, 11:08 GMT)

@Dyland Don Paul I looked into the stats, it says that SL has pathetic against Ind everwhere esp in AUS, ENG & SA!!!

Posted by   on (June 30, 2014, 10:40 GMT)

@ITJOBSUCKS - India has beaten Sri Lanka during the pass 5-6 years n before that India got thrashed by SL in every & any country they played. But past is past. SL is once more the no 1 team in Asia. Well England thrashed India in India, I guess this discussion was bought up by you as a discussion point for the articles posted regarding the upcoming England tour. This SL team will change all these performances of the past. You only need to reflect back a couple of months to realise that(WT20 final)

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (June 30, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

Why can't organize 3 Test match series? SL should not complain that SL gets fewer tests when they do not want to organize 3 test matches. If they do Kumar can break Sachin's records before Kumar retires.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 30, 2014, 8:45 GMT)

I wouldn't be astonished if SA were to beat SL this time around as Ind has beaten SL in their own backyard 4/ 5 times in the last 5-6yrs.....Even Pak & NZ have beaten SL in SL recently.....Plus pitches are pretty flat nowadays in SL!!! If Amla & ABD were to fire, then SA would win the series!!!

Posted by dunger.bob on (June 30, 2014, 7:59 GMT)

On behalf of all the ordinary cricket fans in Australia, I'd like to say 'don't blame us' for this Big 3 stuff. Cricket Australia didn't consult us before they jumped on the band wagon. Believe me, I was just as shocked and appalled when the news broke as anyone from SA, SL the Windies or anywhere.

I've rarely seen so much mutual respect and admiration from two sets of cricket fans soon to be engaged in a series as you guys. I've got to say, as an Aussie, it's kind of sickening ... lol, just kidding. It is good to see. I just wonder how long it's going to last once the battle actually commences. .. I said 3 days, but we'll see. Once again, good luck to everyone. I'm not even involved directly but I'm looking forward to this one.

Posted by ksquared on (June 30, 2014, 4:06 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa the pitches would not be quite the dust bowls we see in IND but certainly will be spin friendly but fast bowlers would always enjoy bowling in the first and probably the morning session of the second especially at the SSC. It seems Galle has a new relaid pitch so we cannot predict what it will be like. Galle in the past has always been spin friendly and it some times spun from the first day but I don't expect it to this time. As far as DRS goes I hope they use it but with the state of SLC with its finances in disarray I really don't see them paying for the whole package ie. snicko,hotspot,hawkeye etc. All in all it will be an interesting series

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (June 29, 2014, 21:50 GMT)

Dear Sri Lankan fans, please give us some insights into pitch conditions - will you prepare dust-bowls like India does or will it be different? I have heard that Sri Lankan cricket board has introduced some pacier tracks so that the players are more familiar with pace and bounce - hence Sri Lankans recent success in England. India still prepare dust-bowls it seems.

I think Sri Lanka is more successful overseas there days than India, eventhough they have a much smaller population. Also they are coming off the high of T20 World cup and beating england.

Also will DRS be used or is Sri Lanka against that?? cricinfo, please post. I dont know why I have to keep repeating it.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (June 29, 2014, 18:04 GMT)

@ Tommy Tucker wrote "Sri Lanka are my favourite Asian team. Their fans are honourable and not arrogant like some other countries we know…"

I heartily second that.

After the World T20 final my family thought my celebrations were insane. (As 'Americans:" they think I'm insane to follow a game in which, after 5 days, a draw is a perfectly acceptable, even honorable result. Quite beyond their understanding!)

The incredible irony when Herath, walked, facing Stuart "I never walk" Broad, had me yelling "SEE - THAT is the true Spirit of Cricket!!!" When Pradeep's appeal overturned that bad LBW decision, keeping SL alive (& denying Broad a wicket) I roared! When his last ball edge fell short, I went so crazy my wife brought me Chamomile tea to calm me down.

When Herath safely held Anderson's catch off Eranga - that monumental catch - she was thought I would have a heart attack.

Yeah - Saffas around the world support SL! We both may not be 'Big 3' - we just beat them at cricket!

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