Can Suranga Lakmal stop Faf du Plessis run-fest in the final ODI?    Getty Images
Can Suranga Lakmal stop Faf du Plessis run-fest in the final ODI? Getty Images

Sri Lanka will enter the final match of their tour to South Africa at Centurion on Friday riding on the little hope they built in the previous game at Cape Town. This will be their only chance to avoid a whitewash. Sri Lanka s top-order proved to be the surviving point in the previous game, while the lower-order slumped once again. As for South Africa, an all-round performance, be it back-to-back centuries from Faf du Plessis or Imran Tahir holding the bowling unit together, was enough to provide them yet another victory in this series. If South Africa manages to whitewash Sri Lanka, Australia s No. 1 spot will be in danger in terms of the ICC ODI team rankings. Full Cricket Scorecard: South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 5th ODI at Centurion

Centurion being a high-scoring venue, will there be yet another 300-plus score on the cards in the final ODI? However, thunderstorm seems to be a worry in the final clash. AB de Villiers had told ESPNcricinfo.com during this series, South Africa will be disappointed with anything less than 5-0. On this note, let us look at some of the possible key clashes that can take place in the final ODI:

Quinton de Kock vs Niroshan Dickwella: The battle of opening batsmen will set the tone of the match. De Kock is already a premier and aggressive player in his side; however, one cannot neglect his wicketkeeping skills as well. The quickfire stumping, that one hand catch behind the stumps of Sachith Pathirana at Cape Town, are few things that keep him ahead in league.

On the other hand, Dickwella s consistency and getting a fifty in almost every game can play a strong role for Sri Lanka, especially with Champions Trophy round the corner. This battle can lit-up the energy level easily in the final game of this tour. SA vs SL 5th ODI, preview: Proteas eye back-to-back 5-0 whitewashes

Faf du Plessis vs Suranga Lakmal: Looks like being free from the captaincy responsibilities, for a while now, has brought the better side of du Plessis to the fore in this series. The South African batting lynchpin, with scores of unbeaten 55, 105 and breaking all the records with his career-best 185, has challenged himself of becoming a great player.

For Sri Lanka, it is time to bring Lakmal in the forefront after being rested for the previous ODI. Although this series has not been flattering enough for Sri Lanka, Lakmal can use his ability to extort bounce in any given condition, which might work in favour of the tourists. Nothing can be sweeter than grabbing the crucial wicket of du Plessis on the other end. Can Lakmal bring the turning point for Sri Lanka?

AB de Villiers vs Sachith Pathirana: After the comeback, de Villiers has not only won the series under his captaincy but also provided supporting role to his batsmen. Be it du Plessis in the previous match or Hashim Amla at Durban, de Villiers has been in top-notch form and will hope to get a century to bring down curtains in the series in a perfect way.

Knowing that de Villiers had tough time with spinners in the previous games in the series, Pathirana will be the go to man for Upul Tharanga. Amongst the spinners, Pathirana has been the spearhead and the second best bowler for the Lankans. It was Pathirana who trapped de Villiers in the previous and will hope to end the tour on a bright note. South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 5th ODI at Centurion: Likely XIs for both teams

Upul Tharanga vs Wayne Parnell: Being off the track at the beginning of the series, Tharanga covered it up by a sleek knock of 119 in the fourth ODI. His century provided some encouragement and kept the hopes alive that Sri Lanka could claim victory, which did not happen. After bringing in his first century since 2013, Tharanga would now want to carry this morale in the final game and provide a captain s knock that will be remembered in the years to come.

On the other hand, this series has clearly belonged to Parnell, who has claimed 9 wickets so far. Although he was rested in the third ODI, the fourth proved to be the best one where he claimed 4 for 58, thus taking South Africa closer to the finish-line in the ODI team rankings. Tharanga s dream innings was halted by Parnell and the latter will ensure the similar thing happens in the last match of this tour.