Sri Lanka v South Africa, 5th ODI, Colombo July 30, 2013

Chance for youngsters to shine


Match facts

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Start time 1430 local (0900 GMT)

Big picture

Wednesday's encounter could shape to be another meaningless dead rubber in a series already short on context, but Sri Lanka's selectors have stepped in to ratchet up interest, if only among the host nation's fans. Sri Lanka have named two uncapped players and a young opener to the 15-man squad and chosen to rest three top players. The match will now serve as a trial for the generation coming through, while the youngsters already embedded in the side now have an opportunity to move closer to their preferred batting positions.

Some experience has been retained in the top order, via Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, who are the series top-scorers and its only centurions. But with both Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga rested and Nuwan Kulasekara still unavailable due to injury, Sri Lanka's attack now appears light on experience. The match may also be a trial for Angelo Mathews' captaincy, who does not have a reliable bowler to call upon if the likes of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers or JP Duminy begin to mount imposing scores.

Some of South Africa's second string have already been on trial for much of the series, but a 4-1 result will be a major disappointment, particularly if they are overcome by a green Sri Lanka outfit. Though their batting has caused them most woe in Sri Lanka so far, the bowling has not been consistent either, and the catching and fielding has been as poor as anything a South Africa side has produced in recent years. The idea of playing for pride is a cliché in encounters such as these, but despite the challenge of playing without key players in this tour, this group of players must now be desperate to prove they are better than they have shown so far in Sri Lanka.

Form guide

(most recent first, last five completed matches)
Sri Lanka WLWWL
South Africa LWLLL

Players to watch

Despite not having played the first two matches, Ajantha Mendis is now the top wicket-taker in the series, with seven scalps at 12.28. As ever, he is most efficient against batsmen who have not played him before, but in the fourth ODI, he also proved capable of exerting control in difficult situations - keeping a flowing Hashim Amla in check during the Powerplays, and then returning at the death to wipe South Africa's innings out. South Africa's batsmen must now be growing wise to his variations, and Mendis' challenge is to continue to remain a threat.

Faf du Plessis has now collected four failures from four innings, and has epitomised the problems in South Africa's batting in the series, as he has failed to provide an innings of substance when the game was in the balance. He has perhaps been unlucky as well - run-out by a poor call from AB de Villiers in one match, and undone by a smart stumping in another, but he needs some runs in Sri Lanka before he takes the reins for the Twenty20 series.

Pitch and conditions

The series has spat up four slow tracks so far, and the surface at the Premadasa for Wednesday is unlikely to be vastly different. After a week of rain, the weather has also settled somewhat in Colombo, though the forecast also mentions a chance of thunderstorms in the early afternoon.

Team news

Aside from Malinga and Herath, Mahela Jayawardene has also been rested from the side. With Upul Tharanga dropped, Kusal Perera is likely to get another chance to open for Sri Lanka, while Angelo Perera may play his second match in the lower middle order. Shaminda Eranga and Sachithra Senanayake may also get to move off the bench and into the XI.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1. Kusal Perera, 2. Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3. Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4. Lahiru Thirimanne, 5. Dinesh Chandimal, 6. Angelo Mathews (c), 7. Angelo Perera, 8. Thisara Perera, 9. Sachithra Senanayake, 10. Shaminda Eranga, 11. Ajantha Mendis

Ryan McLaren's right hamstring will be assessed at training before South Africa make a final call on him. De Villiers admitted on the eve of the match that South Africa had erred by playing two specialist spinners early in the series, and unless there is a raging turner prepared for this match, they are likely to retain their four-pronged pace attack. Whether Quinton de Kock will stay in the side as wicketkeeper, or if Alviro Petersen will return, is uncertain.

South Africa (probable): 1. Hashim Amla, 2.  Quinton de Kock/Alviro Petersen, 3. JP Duminy, 4. AB de Villiers, 5. Faf du Plessis, 6. David Miller, 7. Farhaan Behardien, 8. Robin Peterson, 9. Ryan McLaren/Rory Kleinveldt, 10. Morne Morkel, 11. Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Stats and trivia

  • After Sunday's hundred, Dilshan now has the second-highest ODI centuries among Sri Lankans, after Sanath Jayasuriya. Dilshan has 17 and Jayasuriya 28.
  • South Africa have not lost an away bilateral ODI series since February 2010


"In a series like this, when it's a dead rubber, the youngsters will be free to play their game rather than putting any pressure on themselves."
Angelo Mathews on why it's a good opportunity to groom young players.

"We're still playing against XI good players. Whichever team they are playing tomorrow, we're going to take it as a very serious ODI game and try and beat them."
AB de Villiers states why his team is not treating it as dead rubber

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Raman on July 31, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    @ Imsrk, Show some respect mate. Jayawardena and Jayasuriya have done things that you and me can only dream of. If they could take a small country team to the finals of world cup, is it a bad standard mate?

  • Sameer on July 31, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    @ Jimi01 I agree Amla is one of the best but Sanga is in good form but most of the times he only scores in Sri Lanka. So I am not sure.

  • James on July 31, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    Sangakkara and Amla are easily the two best batsman in the game at the moment. Its an honor watching two of them in 1 match.

  • Mark on July 31, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    How long will SA persist with AB as captain and/or WK. He is one of the world's most talented batsman, but does not seem to be able to do the other two as well. Then as for Miller and Barhardien, both need to find form, outside the national side. Klienveld is also one that needs to be relooked and Tsotsobe need to get fit and get some fielding practice. Our team is not in major trouble, but they need to make some tweaks and try and play some people back into form. They have others to choose from, just look no further than the SA A side.

  • Joshua on July 31, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    If Sanga plays he should come in at 6 when there is about 28 to 32 overs gone. This would allow the youngsters to be confident, patient and set a platform at the top for Sanga, Matthews and Perera to do some late hitting to seal the series. More likely its a win toss, bat first, win game scenario. If SA bats first 270 is a good enough score If Sri bats first 250 is a good enough ONLY if they get Alma before he scores his customary run-a-ball 48. This series would be great if Smith, Kallis and Steyn were here too but they deserve this rest, injured or not. On that note, any SA XI with Smith, Alma, Kallis, Miller, AB, Morne, Steyn and Philander with any 3 other guys is enough to beat any side currently. Thats enough match winners right there. They should also try an all pace attack with Albie and Kallis making the 5th bowler until that spinner comes along as Robbie P was 4 or 5 meters short of having the most expensive overs in both ODIs and Tests history...Unbelievable.

  • Shehan on July 31, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    @ Imsrk: Mate, although Jaysuriyas' ODI average was 32 some thing, you have misssed two important facts in your comment. Jayasuriya had a career strike rate of 90 + (Only player to score 10, 000 runs in ODIs with a 90 +SR) and he has captured 320 odd wickets (The only player to score over 10000 and capture more than 300 wickets in the history of International cricket in any form )

  • isuru on July 31, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    For those who keep telling tht same thng hppn to sl cricket like australia! Dig this unlike aus our players didn't retire they r jst resting if our team fall into a crisis they cn cm back any time unlike aus whose playes r already retired. So lol we can chop and change our young guns at any time whithout much trouble as long as our experience players r their to take responsibilities at any time!

  • mano on July 31, 2013, 7:59 GMT

    Yes, i agree rotation system proved to be failure for Australia. But reasonable rest in between tours for seniors would be handy. Its always healthy to try out young player each match. better blend of young and experience is ok in long run. Who appreciated the absence of Ace spinner Murali at that stage be covered by replacement spinner that early. We can see the SLC is moving in good direction despite few political moves in pool selection.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    @ Fast_Track_Bully, I respect for your opinion but you seem saying wrong information here though. SA didnt rest their senior players but they are injured. Just look at here, Steyn is injured, Smith is injured, Kallis doesnt play ODI at all now. Then, who you meant SA rested for this series?

  • Altaf on July 31, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    don't understand why SL experts always tell about future talents. They already have good young team including Chandimal, Parera, Thiramanne, Mathews, Mendis, Kulasekara etc. Instead of continously rotating them, they need to stabilize them particularly when experienced like Sanga, Jaya, Dilshan are there till WC 2015 with whom they can learn a lot and improve their experience. Or else they will fall like Aus who rotates team so much in presence of Ponting, Hussey and others that they could not build an experienced, stable team who can play a 5 day match or at-least 50 overs match.