Sri Lanka v South Africa, 3rd ODI, Hambantota July 11, 2014

Quicker pitch gives South Africa hope

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Match facts

Saturday, July 12, 2014
Start time 1000 local (0430 GMT)

Big Picture

Hambantota: Sri Lanka's city of the future. Where beautiful four-lane highways and herds of water buffalo co-exist in strength. Where wild elephants rule the roads, and three-foot cobras are among the pedestrians. Where vast flocks of birds have, for thousands of years, thoughtlessly chosen to migrate right where the Sri Lankan authorities would build an international airport.

But it is not just the impromptu safari opportunities in Sri Lanka's untamed south-east that have South Africa feeling a little more at home. The pitch, they feel, has pace and bounce. Not your usual condescending subcontinent kind of pace and bounce, where the keeper might take the ball at waist-height occasionally. This is the proper stuff.

Quicks have run through teams at the venue, and though South Africa have never played an ODI at Hambantota, they have won three out of four T20 internationals there. If there is one venue in the country that will make Dale Steyn's bruised right hand heal up double-quick, this is it. The team management will make a call on whether Steyn will play on Saturday, but he has bowled at Friday's training, so the signs are good.

Sri Lanka are desperate to finish on a winning note, to seal a series they are expected to win. Their victory at Pallekele had all the ingredients of a classic Sri Lanka win; the batting collapse, the fight back, spinners ripping through the opposition and a few Lasith Malinga yorkers for good measure. They have not lost a series so far in 2014, and they will think the first series at home is a poor place to start.

Beyond the cricket field, there are reports of a memo floating around SLC headquarters alleging the team is physically unfit and has attitude problems. At first glance, those claims seem discordant with reality. A fast bowler delivered over 104 overs in back-to-back Tests in England, and the batsmen who made big knocks did not seem to flag at any stage in the series. But the memo also claims the national side's fielding is below par, and given the number of dropped catches over the past six weeks, the players will find it difficult to argue with that observation.

Angelo Mathews and his men will hope to make the loss in Colombo a blip on their 2014 record. But if the South Africa pace attack comes out firing on a bouncy deck, the hosts will have bigger worries than just a disapproving report.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: WLWWL
South Africa:LWWWW

In the spotlight

When Malinga was going through a hot-and-cold stage about a year ago, Nuwan Kulasekara held the attack together with his steady seam and sometimes extravagant inswing. Now that Malinga is back to near his best, Kulasekara has fallen away somewhat. Perhaps he goes looking for wickets instead of bowling line-and-length, or maybe he is struggling a little for rhythm. Whatever the case, Kulasekara has gone wicketless in each of his last five ODIs. A key component in Sri Lanka's World Cup plans, Kulasekara will hope to rediscover his form soon. If he has the wind assisting him at Hambantota, his threat could be magnified.

Tall, sharp, and accurate, Ryan McLaren has been the best of South Africa's quicks this series, probing away in the channel with a modicum of movement off the pitch, and the odd ball kicking up off the surface. On a slightly bouncier Pallekele, McLaren had engineered the late collapse that reeled Sri Lanka in, and if conditions are even better for him at Hambantota, he has the style and form to be a handful. He is a capable hitter down the order as well, as was seen in the first ODI, when he struck up a fruitful stand with David Miller.

Teams news

Offspinner Dilruwan Perera has been included in Sri Lanka's squad, as Upul Tharanga has left it to train with the Sri Lanka A side, which he will shortly lead on a tour to England. Sri Lanka are unlikely to make changes to their XI, however, unless the pace in the pitch convinces them Thisara Perera is a better bet than Ashan Priyanjan.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Kusal Perera, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene 5. Lahiru Thirimanne, 6. Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Ashan Priyanjan/Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Sachithra Senanayake, 10 Ajantha Mendis, 11 Lasith Malinga

Officially South Africa wait on Steyn's fitness, but news from the camp is that he is likely to play.

South Africa (probable): 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 JP Duminy, 6 David Miller, 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Vernon Philander, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

Weather forecasts for this part of the island are often hilariously inaccurate, but for what it is worth, meteorologists have predicted a warm, clear day. The sweeping winds that sometimes blow in during the afternoon may also factor into team's tactics.

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka have won five out of eight completed ODIs at Hambantota.
  • Eight of the top 10 bowling performances at the venue have been delivered by quick bowlers.
  • Ryan McLaren is the leading wicket-taker in the series, with six scalps at an average of 13.5.

    Quotes

    "We have the chance to climb up the rankings if we win this series, so if we play the same way we did at Pallekele, we should be able to do that."
    Tillakaratne Dilshan

    "From past experiences it's a lot more like South African conditions in Hambantota, which suits us really well. We're hoping to see a green deck there for a change."
    AB de Villiers

    Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY LALITHKURUWITA on | July 12, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    I do not understand why Kula was dropped and Herath is in.This seamer riedly pitch.

  • POSTED BY on | July 12, 2014, 4:13 GMT

    dmn...we have lost the toss again....what is the percentage of winning the toss for SL?...surely less than 10%

  • POSTED BY banda2014 on | July 12, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    What a game. Come on Sri lanka!! Lets do it. Take Thisara to Ashan ,Vithanage to Thirimanne and Eranga or Lakmal to Kulasekara. Because they are not playing well in this tournament. It will better if Dilshan ball the first over. Sri Lanka can bat first well in this ground.

  • POSTED BY on | July 12, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    Vithanage for Kusal Janith. Thisara Perera for Priyanjan. Lakmal for Kulasekara.

  • POSTED BY on | July 12, 2014, 3:52 GMT

    The day game is facinating to watch..Good to see day game in prospect!! and Good luck to SL you can win a series (Y)..

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 12, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    get back thisara perera for priyanjan

  • POSTED BY pasindudil on | July 12, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    Drop kule and bring thisara. His pace is better for a quiker pitch like this.

  • POSTED BY Jeewaka9999 on | July 12, 2014, 3:08 GMT

    I am not sure about thinking of our selectors.. why do they ask Tharanga to leave the squad? is that they think A team tour is bigger than the Series decider match against a great team???? As Kusal is struggling ... they could hv given a chance to Tharanga.. Players play in the A side to get a place in National side...i feel it is a bad decision to send him for training.. So selectors continue their policy that is when the player is out of form ... he is given lot of matches in the national side instead of A team to regain his form.. this may be 20-30 ODI or test.. They should hv send Kusal for A team training instead of Tharanga

  • POSTED BY ms2000 on | July 12, 2014, 2:57 GMT

    Andrew , its always a treat to read your articles. Sometimes I wonder from where you find the words to make it so interesting to read. I really love this: Hambantota: Sri Lanka's city of the future. Where beautiful four-lane highways and herds of water buffalo co-exist in strength. Where wild elephants rule the roads, ( SHOULD WHERE THE WILD ELEPHANTS CONTROL TRAFFIC!!!)and three-foot cobras are among the pedestrians. Where vast flocks of birds have, for thousands of years, thoughtlessly chosen to migrate right where the Sri Lankan authorities would build an international airport.

    Good luck SRI LANKA for todaysd game!

  • POSTED BY Jeewaka9999 on | July 12, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Ple give a chance to Lakmal and other fast bowlers bcoz they r doing well these days. Kulasekara won few matches with his bowl and bat in the past. Now he is out of form as well as leak lot of runs. His pace has become too easy to handle.. ple drop him... His overall ODI performance is also not impressive as our main leading fast bowler.. 155 ODI 168 wkts ave 34 strike rate 42 balls/ wkt.. each match his average wicket taking is 1.. i think it is not enough... we can't expext Maling to take early wickets always.. we need to give other fast bowlers a chance

  • POSTED BY LALITHKURUWITA on | July 12, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    I do not understand why Kula was dropped and Herath is in.This seamer riedly pitch.

  • POSTED BY on | July 12, 2014, 4:13 GMT

    dmn...we have lost the toss again....what is the percentage of winning the toss for SL?...surely less than 10%

  • POSTED BY banda2014 on | July 12, 2014, 3:54 GMT

    What a game. Come on Sri lanka!! Lets do it. Take Thisara to Ashan ,Vithanage to Thirimanne and Eranga or Lakmal to Kulasekara. Because they are not playing well in this tournament. It will better if Dilshan ball the first over. Sri Lanka can bat first well in this ground.

  • POSTED BY on | July 12, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    Vithanage for Kusal Janith. Thisara Perera for Priyanjan. Lakmal for Kulasekara.

  • POSTED BY on | July 12, 2014, 3:52 GMT

    The day game is facinating to watch..Good to see day game in prospect!! and Good luck to SL you can win a series (Y)..

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 12, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    get back thisara perera for priyanjan

  • POSTED BY pasindudil on | July 12, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    Drop kule and bring thisara. His pace is better for a quiker pitch like this.

  • POSTED BY Jeewaka9999 on | July 12, 2014, 3:08 GMT

    I am not sure about thinking of our selectors.. why do they ask Tharanga to leave the squad? is that they think A team tour is bigger than the Series decider match against a great team???? As Kusal is struggling ... they could hv given a chance to Tharanga.. Players play in the A side to get a place in National side...i feel it is a bad decision to send him for training.. So selectors continue their policy that is when the player is out of form ... he is given lot of matches in the national side instead of A team to regain his form.. this may be 20-30 ODI or test.. They should hv send Kusal for A team training instead of Tharanga

  • POSTED BY ms2000 on | July 12, 2014, 2:57 GMT

    Andrew , its always a treat to read your articles. Sometimes I wonder from where you find the words to make it so interesting to read. I really love this: Hambantota: Sri Lanka's city of the future. Where beautiful four-lane highways and herds of water buffalo co-exist in strength. Where wild elephants rule the roads, ( SHOULD WHERE THE WILD ELEPHANTS CONTROL TRAFFIC!!!)and three-foot cobras are among the pedestrians. Where vast flocks of birds have, for thousands of years, thoughtlessly chosen to migrate right where the Sri Lankan authorities would build an international airport.

    Good luck SRI LANKA for todaysd game!

  • POSTED BY Jeewaka9999 on | July 12, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Ple give a chance to Lakmal and other fast bowlers bcoz they r doing well these days. Kulasekara won few matches with his bowl and bat in the past. Now he is out of form as well as leak lot of runs. His pace has become too easy to handle.. ple drop him... His overall ODI performance is also not impressive as our main leading fast bowler.. 155 ODI 168 wkts ave 34 strike rate 42 balls/ wkt.. each match his average wicket taking is 1.. i think it is not enough... we can't expext Maling to take early wickets always.. we need to give other fast bowlers a chance

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 12, 2014, 2:51 GMT

    bring duplesis for kalis

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 12, 2014, 1:34 GMT

    I can't understand the logic behind Chandimal not being in the playing XI especially given the frequent middle order collapses srilanka experienced over pass 6 or so months. We gave been very lucky to end up in the winning side in each of the games. Not to mention the fielding effort gas been very ordinary compared to standards set by srilanka team in the past. As a unit I always put srilanka as a better fielding side compared to other teams. But that is diminishing very fast. You cannot drop catches at crucial stages and win matches. Kula needs a break big time, he has lost his line, length, swing, accuracy, consistency etc etc....and his batting ability. give Kula a break and get Lakmal in. Anyways we need 3 quality fast bowlers in AUS and NZ early next year. Also chandimal who as already proved himself in Aus will be crucial to our world cup campaign. Can't imagine what will happen to SL cricket the day Sanga retires.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 12, 2014, 0:40 GMT

    Drop Kallis and bring du plussis in

  • POSTED BY SamLivera on | July 11, 2014, 23:04 GMT

    KUSAL PERERA'S Marvelous, highly Consistent, Classic Performances that has cemented a permanent place in National XI, for the past 12 months! Take a look at this highly "gifted" player's record who had become the Converted SL Opener thanx to...???

    Overall ODI Batting Av 25.8 from 32 matches yielded just 699 runs ODI Batting Av (without BD) 19.5 from 25 ODIs ODI in Eng & WI - 9 ODIs -21runs - Av 2.3 Most Recent: Runs 123 from 10 innings: Batting Av 12.3

    7 Sri Lanka v South Africa Pkele 9 Jul 2014 ODI # 3501 34 Sri Lanka v South Africa (RPS) 6 Jul 2014 ODI # 3500 24 Express v Rulers (SSC) 27 Jun 2014 T20 19 Sri Lanka v England Birmingham 3 Jun 2014 ODI # 3496 19 Sri Lanka v England Lord's 31 May 2014 ODI # 3495 10 Sri Lanka v England The Oval 20 May 2014 T20I # 401 1 Sri Lankans v Kent Canterbury 16 May 2014 LA 4 Sri Lankans v Essex Chelmsford 13 May 2014 LA 0 Sri Lanka v Ireland Dublin 6 May 2014 ODI # 3490 5 Sri Lanka v India

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | July 11, 2014, 22:21 GMT

    Weird AB & Amla Stats!

    AB's career ave in wins is 62.13: in losses 32.85. Since 2012, as captain, his ave went up: in wins 83.5, in losses 41.06!

    Amla's career ave in wins is 70.16: in losses 30.06. Since 2012 it changed little: 71.75 in wins, 28 in losses. Clearly, the batting of both is critical to SA winning - AB more so as skipper!

    AB chases better: career ave chasing 54.51 to 47.26 batting 1st! As captain his chasing ave shot up to 77.66, & his bat 1st ave went up to 55.13.

    Amla's career ave chasing is much lower at 46.32 than his batting 1st ave of 60.17. BUT, under AB's captaincy, IT REVERSED, & now his ave chasing is 57.54 vs 52.04 batting 1st!

    So with AB as captain they both chase better. However, under AB's captaincy, SA HAS A BETTER RECORD BATTING FIRST - W/L ratio 1.55 - than chasing, W/L ratio 1.0.

    I can only surmise that the rest of the SA team are so utterly pathetic when chasing that if AB or Hash fail, SA lose. I'm very interested in hearing other opinions.

  • POSTED BY Herath-UK on | July 11, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    Memos floating around cricket teams are not unique & new ,not at least with the current England team, so just dismiss them as long as the team fights hard on the field which we saw plenty recently. Another Sri Lanka series win in the year.

  • POSTED BY LALITHKURUWITA on | July 11, 2014, 20:42 GMT

    SLshould play Tissara here. If Vaas has inmproved his bowling he will be more effective than Ashan.

  • POSTED BY Kotuwegogoda on | July 11, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    A keen contest is expected weather permitting. From Srilankan perspective get Amla, AB and Duminy early when they bat. For Srilanka the top and middle order should handle fast bowlers well and put a decent total to defend.

    Having seen Priyanjan's performance in last few matches, it would be a good idea to insert Thissara Perera since he could bowl fast and bat well too.

    Fielding lapses were commented on here and there. Wonder what fielding coach is doing to rectify them early since taking catches, run outs and saving runs are part of his duties. Other areas seem ok but hope Sanga would come amongst the runs.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    I think SL may continue their winning records against SA in SL.....everything is depends on how amla and ABD plays...@@ lets see tomorrow at 10am... IST

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    South africa have a better chance My eyes will be on Kallis

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 18:27 GMT

    RSA will win the series no doubt & will amala will score his 3 th 100 score..

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 18:25 GMT

    Amla........ How can u forget him....... I feel he will surely make 3 of 3... He is a real Gem...

  • POSTED BY ma1893 on | July 11, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    I don't understand why this article makes no mention of Amla, he has scored 2 consecutive centuries...what more does he have to do?

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 11, 2014, 15:13 GMT

    SL has a lot of chances to win the series.

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    new faster ballers plz...enough seen this poor attack..test attack is superb

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 11, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    its a dry pitch so spin will dominate tomorrow

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 11, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    bounce is one thing, wind is another. The team who will control the swing and try to keep a good line and length will win the match. In that case SL has more experiance than SA playing in these windy conditions and that will be an advantage for them. As for the SL batters, I don't think it will be a big issue as they have had more practice in similar bouncy conditions in ENG for the past 2 months.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 11, 2014, 12:22 GMT

    @Prabhakar Ever heard of something called home advantage....???? I think Sri Lanka is fully within their rights to prepare dust bowls if they wish and think they can win the series by doing so. Yes occasionally it can back fire like what happened to India during England series. But (contrary) Sri Lanka has enough talent to win with any team under home conditions. And for the record Ricky Ponting did play in the series.

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    @blade-runner. Yes. Sri Lanka will not prepare dust bowls. Come the test matches and they will prepare flat bowls where scores of 600 plus are a regular. The ball will not bounce above the knee level and their batsmen will make merry. They had prepared dust bowls in 2003 -04 against the Aussies when Murali was at his peak. The result Lankans lost 3-0. They were whitewashed by the Aussies at home, despite the fact that Warne was rusty after a 1 year ban and the Aussies were without Ricky Ponting. Will Sri Lanka play a test match against SA on a bouncy Hambantota pitch?? Never. A ODI here or there is all that they may dare.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 11, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    Its not going to be as bouncy as its expeced to be and it will be a dry surface and SA will struggle again for sure... But we have to get Tisara back in the team and Ashan has to sit out imo.. But considering Kula is out of form in both batting and bowlIng repIsing him with Tisara is better. But it will highly unlike to happen...

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    If the pitch is what it shows in the article there is no point playing mendis. Instead we should use lakmal or eranga. Tp should play instead of Priyanjana. Saffas may feel it home there but the reality is this is just another playground for lions.

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    kulasekara should drop and bring thisara. he can bowl 10 ovvers in this surface.

  • POSTED BY Blade-Runner on | July 11, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    Now everyone can see that Sri Lanka are a good host and don't prepare dust bowls even though we're aware that South Africans are a bit vulnerable against the quality spin bowling. :) That's the way to go!!!I remember once Steyn saying that he felt it at home in Hambantota. This pitch is a real quick one and offers a lot of bounce. So, the pacers from both sides will surely enjoy bowling there.

    I really hope that Kulasekara will regain his form here. And we need to bring Thisara Perera back. He is a proven match winner and gives that extra fire power we need to have a strong finish.

  • POSTED BY Sinhaya on | July 11, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    Quite crossed that there are no changes in the XI. Surely Priyanjan and Kulasekara must be dropped to give way to Vithanage and Thisara Perera. Why prepare bouncy tracks at home? Well I suppose we must reciprocate SA for giving us a turning Galle like Pitch in Durban in 2011 which helped us register our historic first test win in SA. Kallis must be dropped as far as SA are concerned.

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    Ya, with the blasting form of Hashim Amla and the pace-favouring pitch at Hambantota , South Africa are almost certain to win the decider match and the series too. But if Steyn won't play, it may cause harm and disorder to the bowling attack. However, we hope that McLaren and Morkel will fulfil the absence. RSA will certainly win. Good luck to them and to AMLA especially.

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    Why can't have some "QUICK" pitches in the Caribbean .

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    South Africa will surely come back.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    South Africa will surely come back.

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    Why can't have some "QUICK" pitches in the Caribbean .

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    Ya, with the blasting form of Hashim Amla and the pace-favouring pitch at Hambantota , South Africa are almost certain to win the decider match and the series too. But if Steyn won't play, it may cause harm and disorder to the bowling attack. However, we hope that McLaren and Morkel will fulfil the absence. RSA will certainly win. Good luck to them and to AMLA especially.

  • POSTED BY Sinhaya on | July 11, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    Quite crossed that there are no changes in the XI. Surely Priyanjan and Kulasekara must be dropped to give way to Vithanage and Thisara Perera. Why prepare bouncy tracks at home? Well I suppose we must reciprocate SA for giving us a turning Galle like Pitch in Durban in 2011 which helped us register our historic first test win in SA. Kallis must be dropped as far as SA are concerned.

  • POSTED BY Blade-Runner on | July 11, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    Now everyone can see that Sri Lanka are a good host and don't prepare dust bowls even though we're aware that South Africans are a bit vulnerable against the quality spin bowling. :) That's the way to go!!!I remember once Steyn saying that he felt it at home in Hambantota. This pitch is a real quick one and offers a lot of bounce. So, the pacers from both sides will surely enjoy bowling there.

    I really hope that Kulasekara will regain his form here. And we need to bring Thisara Perera back. He is a proven match winner and gives that extra fire power we need to have a strong finish.

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    kulasekara should drop and bring thisara. he can bowl 10 ovvers in this surface.

  • POSTED BY wapuser on | July 11, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    If the pitch is what it shows in the article there is no point playing mendis. Instead we should use lakmal or eranga. Tp should play instead of Priyanjana. Saffas may feel it home there but the reality is this is just another playground for lions.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 11, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    Its not going to be as bouncy as its expeced to be and it will be a dry surface and SA will struggle again for sure... But we have to get Tisara back in the team and Ashan has to sit out imo.. But considering Kula is out of form in both batting and bowlIng repIsing him with Tisara is better. But it will highly unlike to happen...

  • POSTED BY on | July 11, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    @blade-runner. Yes. Sri Lanka will not prepare dust bowls. Come the test matches and they will prepare flat bowls where scores of 600 plus are a regular. The ball will not bounce above the knee level and their batsmen will make merry. They had prepared dust bowls in 2003 -04 against the Aussies when Murali was at his peak. The result Lankans lost 3-0. They were whitewashed by the Aussies at home, despite the fact that Warne was rusty after a 1 year ban and the Aussies were without Ricky Ponting. Will Sri Lanka play a test match against SA on a bouncy Hambantota pitch?? Never. A ODI here or there is all that they may dare.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 11, 2014, 12:22 GMT

    @Prabhakar Ever heard of something called home advantage....???? I think Sri Lanka is fully within their rights to prepare dust bowls if they wish and think they can win the series by doing so. Yes occasionally it can back fire like what happened to India during England series. But (contrary) Sri Lanka has enough talent to win with any team under home conditions. And for the record Ricky Ponting did play in the series.