Your essential guide to the first ODI between the Proteas and Sri Lanka at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium on Sunday.
After a humiliating Test series that saw the Proteas slump to 278-run and 199-run defeats, the players will shift their attention to the all-important five-match ODI series.
The road to the 2019 World Cup begins, and the Proteas have yet to discover their best XI.
They took a young, fresh squad to the subcontinent, along with some seasoned pros. Six new faces – JP Duminy, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Reeza Hendricks, Junior Dala and Wiaan Mulder – joined the squad in Sri Lanka.
Their last ODI series was against India in South Africa and the Proteas were embarrassed by their visitors, losing the six-match series 5-1. It was evident that the Proteas were clueless about their strongest XI during that series. Injuries played a large role in the varied selections, but even with all players fit, the Proteas still face a selection headache heading into the series in Sri Lanka.
The question will be whether Ottis Gibson will show confidence in the tried and trusted, build a young fresh XI or look to create a balance between youth and experience. The retirement of Morne Morkel and AB de Villiers add to the selection difficulties, while the selectors have also not included Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Chris Morris or Imran Tahir for the ODI series.
India’s thrashing of the Proteas in South Africa exposed their frailties against spin. India’s spin duo took 33 wickets and top-order collapses were the order of the day – much like during the Test series against Sri Lanka.
A new star, however, arose against India, as Heinrich Klaasen stepped up and staked his claim for a permanent spot in the side. This will put pressure on the selectors as they try and identify their top six.
The Proteas will need to decide on whether they will play six batsmen and five bowlers, or seven batsmen and four specialist bowlers. The decision to select two spinners will play a massive role in their team set-up.
There are many combinations that the Proteas could go with and the first ODI in Dambulla will give a good indication of the selectors’ thinking for the rest of the series. Mulder and Hendricks performed well in the Proteas’ warm-up match against the Sri Lanka Board XI, and their performances could tempt the selectors to opt for them in the first ODI.
Here is the lineup captain Faf du Plessis may have at his disposal if they select two spinners.
Possible Proteas XI
- Hashim Amla
- Quinton de Kock
- Faf du Plessis (c)
- Aiden Markram
- JP Duminy
- David Miller
- Andile Phehlukwayo
- Kagiso Rabada
- Keshav Maharaj
- Lungi Ngidi
- Tabraiz Shamsi
There will be a slight shuffle for Sri Lanka. Danushka Gunathilaka has been banned for the series and their captain Dinesh Chandimal is serving a four-ODI suspension for ‘going on strike’ during the ball-tampering row against the West Indies. This means Angelo Mathews will hold the captaincy against the Proteas.
Possible Sri Lanka XI
- Shehan Jayasuriya
- Upul Tharanga
- Kusal Mendis
- Angelo Mathews (c)
- Dhananjaya de Silva
- Niroshan Dickwella
- Thisara Perera
- Akila Dananjay
- Suranga Lakmal
- Lakshan Sandakan
- Dasun Shanaka
- The Proteas have played two matches at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, both in 2004. They lost both matches – one by seven wickets and the other by four wickets.
- South Africa have played the hosts 19 times in Sri Lanka. They have won four and lost 14. Their last ODI in Sri Lanka was on 12 July 2014, when the Proteas won by 82 runs.
- The Proteas have played four ODI series and one triangular series in Sri Lanka. They drew their first series in 1994, lost the triangular in 2000, lost the series in 2003 and 2013, and won their last series 2-1 in 2014.
- Hashim Amla is the highest-scoring South African in Sri Lanka. He has 353 ODI runs at an average of 70.60, with two centuries and a fifty in six matches.
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