SA to stick with two specialist spinners
South Africa sunk to their second-heaviest defeat ever, in terms of runs, on Saturday, but AB de Villiers said he would seek to employ a similar strategy against Sri Lanka in the second ODI. South Africa's bowlers were largely to blame for the loss, conceding 320 for 5, and 137 in the last 12 overs, but de Villiers was particularly enamoured of the prospect of fielding two frontline spinners.
Robin Peterson and Aaron Phangiso bowled only 14 overs collectively in the first match, taking 1 for 80 between them, but had done enough to persuade de Villiers they were both worth sticking with. Both frontline spinners are left-armers and Sri Lanka are likely to field five left-hand batsmen in the top eight. The part-time offspin of JP Duminy is also available to South Africa, though he did travel for 51 in his seven overs in the first match.
With the R Premadasa pitch expected to play slower on Tuesday, having already sustained 82 overs of wear in the first match, de Villiers felt all his slow bowlers were capable of making an impact.
"I'd like to have both of the spinners in there," de Villiers said. "I enjoyed the fact that we played a lot of frontline spinners, even though they didn't take a lot of wickets. It's a nice style of attack for us. There are a few right-handers as well in the team. I think they both bowl well to left-handers. Aaron especially showed that against Kumar Sangakkara right at the death. Under a lot of pressure he bowled a really good over. I truly believe they have the experience and the skill - Robin, Aaron and JP, to adapt to certain batters whether they are right or left-handers, and I'll try to bowl them at the right times.
"JP is just a part-time bowler still, but he is handy, especially to left-handers. He'll pretty much bowl in every game and he's definitely part of our plans. We wouldn't like to experiment too much with our side. I believe the best XI played two days ago. We'd like to stay as close as possible to that XI with the odd change here and there."
De Villiers also called for improvement from his side in the field, after a shabby showing in the first game. South Africa have built a reputation for being one of the best fielding sides in the world, but allowed the heat and humidity to affect their performance, de Villiers said, though the only dropped catch came as early as the first over.
"We're not the best fielding team in the world yet. We've got the potential, so it's a bit frustrating to see us field like that. I think the boys have learnt from their mistakes. It was a long 50 overs in the field and the afternoon was quite hot, which is not an excuse, but something new to the guys, something they couldn't adapt to. In this game they'll hopefully know what to expect and take a few matchwinning catches and a couple of run-outs. The bowlers certainly need them."
Hashim Amla has not been declared fit after suffering from muscle spasms in his neck last Friday, but de Villiers said he had recovered smoothly since then, and hoped Amla would bring some much-needed experience into the top order. South Africa are missing their most seasoned batsmen in Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, who have not come on tour.
"Hash is still not 100% and we'll have to reassess that at training, when he'll have a light net and then final reassessments tonight and tomorrow morning. It's important to start well, but also to stabilise the innings if we don't start well, which we also didn't do in that match. We got it wrong in both departments. I'd like to focus on the basics tomorrow and get that in place, even if we have a bad start."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here