PORT ELIZABETH: Buoyed by their first success in any series in South Africa, Sri Lanka will go into the first one-day international at St George’s Park on Saturday with renewed confidence.
On their fifth tour of South Africa, Sri Lanka won their first trophy when they clinched a 2-1 Twenty20 series victory with a five-wicket win in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“It’s a great confidence booster,” said Niroshan Dickwella, the Sri Lankan opening batsman who was named man of the series.
“Winning against a big team like South Africa is big. The whole team is backing up our strengths now. We are going to play well in the one-day series as well.”
Dickwella identified pitch conditions as the biggest difference in Sri Lanka’s performances after they were outplayed on seam bowler-friendly conditions in three Test matches.
“In this (T20) series, the three wickets were pretty much batting wickets so that’s why it’s easier for us now.”
The trend of good batting pitches is likely to continue in the one-day games – but the quality of the South African opposition will be better.
The hosts rested most of their leading players during the T20 series but their big guns will be back in action as they step up their preparations for the Champions Trophy in England in June.
South African coach Russell Domingo said fit-again one-day captain AB de Villiers would slot back into the team at number four in the batting order behind Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, with JP Duminy and David Miller likely to follow.
Only Miller was in the original T20 squad, although De Villiers made his international return and scored 63 in Wednesday’s series decider.
“Our top six is pretty established,” said Domingo. “We are trying to find our new ball bowling partnerships and our all-rounders to come in at seven and eight. We also want to look at different combinations – whether to go with one spinner or two and also to identify which spinners they are, whether to pick one all-rounder or two or to go with our best possible bowling combination.”
The competition for all-rounder places is likely to be intense with Chris Morris coming back after a six-month injury lay-off, while Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius will all be keen to make a claim.
“The main thing ahead of the Champions Trophy is to get everyone playing so we can decide on our best combinations,” said Domingo.
South Africa (first three matches): AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (captain), Dinesh Chandimal (wkt), Chaturanga de Silva, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thikshila de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Madushanka, Kusal Mendis, Sachith Pathirana, Seekkuge Prasanna, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Sandun Weerakkody.
January 28, Port Elizabeth
February 1, Durban
February 4, Johannesburg
February 7, Cape Town
February 10, Centurion