3rd ODI, Pallekele, August 05, 2018, South Africa tour of Sri Lanka
(45.2/50 ov, T:364) 285

South Africa won by 78 runs

Player Of The Match
102 (89)

Can Sri Lanka end their losing streak against South Africa?

South Africa have beaten them 10 times in a row, in a streak stretching back to 2014

Big Picture

Try as they might, Sri Lanka can't seem to put together a competent ODI performance against South Africa. In the first ODI of the series, the batsmen failed spectacularly. In the second, they hauled themselves to a competitive score, only for fielders to drop near-undroppable catches early in South Africa's chase, in addition to producing several other acts of fielding slapstick. The moment Sri Lanka put out one fire, another one breaks out in some other part of their ODI game. Then while they are heading over to deal with that flame, they discover their trousers have also been set alight. They've lost 10 consecutive ODIs to South Africa now - a sequence that goes back to July 2014. People who can't control their bowels have less embarrassing streaks than that.
South Africa, meanwhile, have restored a little dignity to their own outfit with the two comfortable wins, and may have begun to feel like there is some depth to their ODI squad, despite the 5-1 drubbing by India earlier this year. Lungi Ngidi continues to impress, much like Tabraiz Shamsi and Andile Phehlukwayo. Wiaan Mulder showed in Dambulla that he could be a handy utility option in the long term, while Quinton de Kock produced a solid innings to break out of a spell of poor scores. But at some point, even South Africa might start to wonder if they are really gaining much by repeatedly thumping this same opposition over and over and over. What happens in Sri Lanka might stay in Sri Lanka, essentially - it's not necessarily going to leave them that much better placed for the World Cup next year.
So with the series on the line in Pallekele, the situation is that it might be a good thing for both teams for Sri Lanka to get themselves to a winning position on Sunday. The hosts would have the chance to break this terrible bad run, and South Africa may have their skills and mettle properly tested, if they have to fight through a tough match situation.

Form guide

Sri Lanka LLWWW (completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa WWLLW

In the spotlight

Aiden Markram has not had a lot of fun so far on this tour. He didn't breach 20 in any of his Tests innings, and unlike for most of his team-mates, the troubles against spin have followed him into the ODIs, where he has collected scores of 0 and 3. Anyone who watched South Africa's Tests against Australia earlier this year will know Markram is a phenomenal talent. But it may be that at 23, he is not a complete batsman yet, and he is finding out his shortcomings on this tour.
Kusal Mendis, also 23, also a possible future star, has not had a productive series either, thrice making starts in the Tests, and yet failing to get past 30. In the ODIs, his scores are identical to Markram's - 3 and 0. It will be hoped by the coaching staff that an average of less than 30 will be much closer to 40 by the time Sri Lanka go to the World Cup next year.

Team news

South Africa are likely to keep their XI from Wednesday.
South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Aiden Markram, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt.), 5 JP Duminy, 6 DA Miller, 7 Wiaan Mulder, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Lungi Ngidi
Sri Lanka may think about leaving Shehan Jayasuriya loose in favour of Dhananjaya de Silva, but are likelier to keep the same team as well.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 3 Upul Tharanga, 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Angelo Mathews (capt.), 6 Shehan Jayasuriya, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Lakshan Sandakan, 11 Kasun Rajitha

Pitch and conditions

Pallekele is Sri Lanka's wettest venue, and there is some rain forecast for Sunday. Showers at this time of year tend to be short and sharp, however, so it is likely there will be a completed game, even if there are some delays. The pitch generally has plenty of bounce and zip for the quicks, though spinners can be effective as well.

Stats and trivia

  • Throughout this streak of ten losses, Sri Lanka have not even come close to beating South Africa, with the lowest margins of victory being 40 runs and four wickets.
  • Aiden Markram has not passed fifty in eight innings, since he hit 66 against Bangladesh on debut.
  • Sri Lanka have lost a whopping 27 of the 35 completed ODIs they have played since the start of 2017.

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

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