“When a team wins, everything seems to be right, however, a string of losses could lower the morale of the whole team. But there are positives too that emerge out of the losses”
With nothing to lose, Sri Lanka put up a formidable fight in the fourth ODI against South Africa at Pallekele and just about emerged on top. Despite being 0-3 down, Sri Lanka showed hunger and their body language was excellent as they pulled off a win, literally from the jaws of defeat. South Africa were cruising and looked set to accomplish their target, but the Sri Lankan bowlers bowled well in the final 10 overs and registered their first win of the ODI series. The fifth ODI at Colombo is yet another inconsequential match, yet there is a lot riding on it for both teams.
After losing 10 home matches, Sri Lanka bounced back with a victory. It will no doubt be a huge morale booster going into the final ODI and the hosts will look o build on their good form. From 0-3 to 2-3 in a matter of a week might perhaps bring back the confidence and we could see go into the Asia Cup next month with a positive frame of mind. It has not been an easy year or so for Sri Lanka, who have had many captains in that period and have juggled their team very often. They have seen this period through and it can only get better for them from here. A win in Colombo might just bring back the belief.
Quinton de Kock was handed the captaincy for the very first time after Faf du Plessis had to pull out due to injury. The young wicketkeeper-batsman will once again lead the Proteas in the fifth ODI and will look to learn quickly from his mistakes and rectify them in this match. De Kock is rated highly by the team management. While Ottis Gibson feels de Kock has an exceptional cricketing mind, du Plessis reckons that the extra responsibility will help de Kock grow. There is little doubt of de Kock’s ability with the bat or behind the wickets. But when you are the captain of the side, you do not have the luxury of just thinking just about your game, but have to be more proactive and help other players reach their full potential. While it’s a short window of opportunity to judge de Kock’s captaincy skills, he will certainly have a point to prove when the teams take the field on Sunday.
The Proteas surely would not want to lose two games in a row after taking a healthy lead in the series. They have been the better side in large part of the series and would like to end it with an emphatic win. They lost the Test series comprehensively, but with different sets of players coming in for both sides, South Africa have emerged victorious. They have given everyone from their bench a chance to play in the series and they seemed to be up for the task. However, they will play their best players for the final game, which will mean that Kagiso Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi are most likely to return. If that happens, this will be a full-fledged South African side, barring Faf.
Angelo Mathews got his selection right for the fourth ODI and that paid dividends. Moreover, the batsmen played responsibly and did not give their wickets away, which helped them put up a big score on the board. Once every player is assigned a particular role in the team, the task becomes that much easier for the captain. It will then depend on the player as to how he executes it. Sri Lanka have not found their best XI and will have to figure it out soon as they have important tours coming up next. Barring whether to play just one spinner or two, the team will remain more or less the same at Colombo.
When a team wins, everything seems to be right, however, a string of losses could lower the morale of the whole team. But there are positives too that emerge out of the losses. Sri Lanka have suffered enough over the last year and have taken many steps in order to get results. Everything seemed to click at Pallekele and they will be gunning to win the final match to prove that it was not a one-off affair or a fluke. But it will not be easy as South Africa will be better equipped this time.
Many captains around the world say that they do not play for rankings. However, if South Africa do beat Sri Lanka in the final match, they will sneak above New Zealand into the third spot in the ICC ODI rankings.
With one eye on the World Cup, every game becomes important. South Africa have some tough series coming. They welcome Zimbabwe at home before heading to Australia after which they return back to South Africa to take on Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have to play the Asia Cup, England at home and then head to New Zealand, Australia and then to the Rainbow Nation. Sri Lanka just about manage to qualify for the World Cup and they will have to make every game count – So do South Africa. The game at Colombo is certainly going to be one of those games.