Lasith-Malinga-of-Sri-Lanka-celebrates-bowling-Dwayne-Smith-of-the-West-Indies-during-66
Lasith Malinga was on target for Sri Lanka in the 2nd ODI © Getty Images

 

By Sudatta Mukherjee

 

Jul 11, 2014

 

After losing the first One-Day International (ODI) match by a huge margin, Sri Lanka came back strong to beat South Africa by 87 runs in the second match Pallekele on Wednesday. With the series levelled at 1-1, Sri Lanka will be aiming to keep up the winning momentum and seal the series in the final ODI match against an inconsistent South Africa at Hambantota on Saturday.

 

For South Africa, Hashim Amla has been on top form with back-to-back centuries. He scored 109 in 1st ODI and 101 in the 2nd ODI. AB de Villiers scored 75 in the first match but couldn’t transform his 29 into a big number in the second match. Apart from the duo, almost the whole batting order failed miserably at Pallekele.

 

Experienced cricketer Jacques Kallis has been unable to put up a big score yet. His last century came in 2010 against India in Ahmedabad. Since then, Kallis has scored 11 half-centuries but has been unable to convert them into a hundred. His presence in the team comes under serious question, as to whether he has crossed his prime and should be asked to step back and let the young guns takeover, with ICC World Cup 2015 in mind. The third ODI against Sri Lanka will prove to be very crucial for the South African senior batsman.

 

Bowling hasn’t been much of a headache for the visitors. Even though Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander haven’t produced exceptional spells till now, Ryan McLaren and Imran Tahir have been influential with the ball. In the first match, McLaren picked up four wickets and Tahir picked two wickets at an economy rate of 4.10 and in the second match picked up two wickets and Tahir scalped three.

 

For Sri Lanka, bowling had been a worry in the first match, where  Ajantha Mendis was the only bowler who made an impact. In the second ODI, Mendis continued his form, picking up two wickets. However, Lasith Malinga was pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka, picking up four wickets and removing the top three batsmen, including Amla, who was proving to be a threat.

 

In the batting front, Sri Lanka found Tillakaratne Dilshan in top notch, when the opener not only scored a crucial 86 but also picked up three important wickets, in the second match.. However, Kumar Sangakkara who scored 88 in the first match, couldn’t follow up in the second match with a big score. On the other hand, Mahela Jayawardene, who failed in the first match, scored an all important 48 in the second match.

The wicket at Hambantota will support the bowlers, especially spinners, so Tahir and Mendis will be crucial for their respective teams.

 

Squads:

 

Sri Lanka: Kushal Janith Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews (c), Ashan Priyanjan, Nuwan Kulasekara, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga.

 

South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (c), Jean-Paul Duminy, David Miller, Ryan McLaren, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.