Having taken an unbeatable 3-1 led in the five-match ODI series against South Africa,Sri Lanka decided to rest the senior troika of Mahela Jayawardene,Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath from the final match here tomorrow.
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 in Pallekele 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 one-dayers going back to 1993.
“There is a lot to gain from the last game,” de Villiers said. “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,regardless of the state of the series.”
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,” said de Villiers. “The bowlers have been playing good cricket,but we as batsmen have just not supported them well enough.
“This is a chance to show what we are capable of with the bat. Every player in the squad takes pride in his performance and they will no doubt want to finish the series successfully.”
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.
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews insisted his side was looking to add to the tourists’ woes by winning the last match to make it a 4-1 scoreline.
Mathews,asked if he planned to test the strength of the bench on Wednesday,said: “We have not taken a call on that,but our main target is to win the series 4-1.
“We might make one or two changes,but we certainly don’t want 11 freshers coming in. In our line-up,we have just three seniors,while the rest are all young players.”
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.
The one-day series will be followed by three Twenty20 internationals starting in Colombo on Friday.
Sri Lanka squad: Angelo Mathews (Captain),Dinesh Chandimal (vice-Captain),T M Dilshan,Kusal Janith Perera,Lahiru Thirimanne,Kumar Sangakkara,Angelo Perera,Thisara Perera,Suranga Lakmal Shaminda Eranga,Vimukthi Perera,Sachithra Senanayake,Ajantha Mendis,Dimuth Karunaratne,Chathuranga de Silva