With the World Cup just a few months away, things finally seem to be falling in place for the hosts. Their bowling has been top notch throughout the series, be it at the start with Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje firing in thunderbolts or Imran Tahir weaving a web around the batsmen with his leg-breaks. The trio of Rabada, Ngidi and Nortje has accounted for 18 wickets in the four games so far while Tahir, in his last ODI series at home, has returned seven.
The highest total Sri Lanka have managed so far in the series has been 231 in the first ODI with the South African bowlers at no stage allowing them to settle. Such has been their precision that Dale Steyn has got just one game so far in the series. Faf du Plessis will once again bank upon his bowlers to land the blow upfront and nothing short of a series sweep will please the captain.
The batting department is one where the hosts still have a few questions to answer. While Quinton de Kock and du Plessis at the top have been ruthless and occupy the first and second position on the run-getters' chart, others haven't yet managed to get into their groove. David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks have all gotten starts but have failed to capitalised while the lower-middle order too hasn't found much form.
JP Duminy, who has announced his retirement from ODIs, will play one last time at home and he will want to leave no stone unturned in turning his final game into a win.
"The last few months on the sidelines have given me an opportunity to re-assess my career going forward and to plot some goals I'd like to achieve in the future. While a decision like this is never easy, I also feel that it is the right time for me to pass on the baton," said Duminy while announcing his retirement.
For Sri Lanka, on the other hand, the problems just don't seem to subside. They are on an eight-match losing streak in the format and have won just one of their last 13 completed ODIs. To add to their woes, head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has been asked to return home ahead of the Twenty20 International series, with fielding coach Steve Rixon to take over. With the World Cup not far off, the atmosphere in the dressing room is far from desirable.
The bowling has looked wayward while the batsmen have just not been able to cope against a far superior South African attack. The problem starts right at the top for the visitors. In the fours games, the opening partnership has not crossed 13. The likes of Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella have failed to fire while Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando have not turned starts into anything substantial.
Malinga has time and again said that the players need to understand the value of playing in the national side. With not a lot of games left in before the quadrennial event starts, Malinga will want Sri Lanka to fire collectively one last time and hope his side finishes on a high.
The weather is expected to be clear for the final ODI with the chances of rain being minimal. Newlands has been a high-scoring ground in the past and it is unlikely to change this time around as well.
South Africa (From): Quinton de Kock(w), Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis(c), David Miller, Jean-Paul Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Imran Tahir, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen.
Sri Lanka (From): Avishka Fernando, Upul Tharanga, Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis(w), Priyamal Perera, Kamindu Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga(c), Kasun Rajitha, Angelo Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan.
Faf du PlessisImran TahirJP Duminykagiso rabadaLasith Malingalungi ngidiSouth AfricaSouth Africa vs Sri Lanka 2019sri lanka
First Published: March 15, 2019, 10:25 PM IST