Sri Lanka and South Africa will not let the intensity slip in today’s fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) in Colombo even though the hosts have already wrapped up the series.
The day-night game at the Premadasa Stadium will hold only academic interest as Sri Lanka gained an unassailable 3-1 lead following their eight-wicket win on Sunday.
South African captain AB de Villiers said he wants a win to improve his nation’s poor track record in Sri Lanka, where the Proteas have won just two of their 14 completed ODIs going back to 1993.
“There is a lot to gain from the last game,” said De Villiers. “We have not won much in Sri Lanka, so we are very keen to finish on a high.
“All of us, especially the younger players, are getting some experience of how to play in these conditions. That will be vital for tours in the future.
“Besides, every match that you play for South Africa is an important one.”
The skipper laid the blame for the series loss on poor batting on spin-friendly pitches.
“What we need are a few 100s and some good partnerships,” he said. “The bowlers have been playing good cricket, but we as batsmen have just not supported them well enough.”
South Africa rested premier fast-bowler Dale Steyn and leading all-rounder Jacques Kallis for the tour, while former ODI captain Graeme Smith was sidelined due to injury.
Star batsman Hashim Amla was injured for two of the four matches and has batted just once in the series, making 77 on Sunday.
Mathews eyes 4-1 scoreline
Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews insisted his side was looking to add to the tourists’ woes by winning the match to make it a 4-1 scoreline.
Asked if he planned to test the strength of the bench today, he said, “We have not taken a call on that, but our main target is to win the series 4-1.”
Former captains Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan have once again provided stability to the batting, with Dilshan and Sangakkara contributing a century each.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2013.
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