Ed Hawkins previews game three from Durban on Sunday and suggests the tourists are worth a gamble at big odds...
"South Africa's pace attack, which is superb, knocked over the Lankans with little fuss. Kagiso Rabada took three and Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje two apiece"
South Africa v Sri Lanka
Sunday 10 March 08.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Saffers batting is dodgy
South Africa are two games to the good but it is impossible to have been impressed by the efforts of their batsmen at Centurion. And that has been true for some time. Ahead of the World Cup this is a unit which is in a perilous position it seems whenever it is asked to bat first.
Last time out early on they looked anything but a team which had lost eight of its last 15 when setting a target. They had rollicked to 130-2 in the 20th with Quinton de Kock sending the ball to all parts like tracer bullets. Then they suffered an awful, confidence-wrecking collapse. They were bowled out for just 251.
In the context of the match it didn't matter because their pace attack, which is superb, knocked over the Lankans with little fuss. Kagiso Rabada took three and Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje two apiece.
The warning is there, though, for future battles. Rabada bats at No 8 which is way too high in the modern game. Sooner or later South Africa are going to get found out.
Tourists desperate for nous
Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lanka captain, cursed his men for failing to knuckle down to level the series. And despite conditions being against them, they really should have made a better fist of the chase. They never threatened to get close and 138 all out was a sorry return.
But as we have said consistently throughout the series they are desperately missing key men. Oh how they could do with Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal. With both in the XI they would surely have made a game of it.
As it stands it is an inexperienced line-up, more so with Upul Tharanga sitting out game two. They need him back.
With the ball they can have few complaints. Thisara Perera was their top wicket-taker and although he looks innocuous he is their most reliable in this regard in the last two years. Malinga himself looked a threat although his best days are long gone.
Could nip about early
A rare day ODI for Durban. There have been only two in ten years. Not that there is a toss bias under lights we are trying to filter out you understand. In all conditions, then, the last five first-innings scores (1-2 denote won by side batting first or second, most recent first): 203-2/269-2/307-1/371-2/283-1. Pakistan could manage only 203 in January. They crumbled to Andile Phehlukwayo, who took four wickets. Seam and swing should be the order of the day and we wouldn't be surprised to see the toss winner choose to bowl.
Take a chance
Sri Lanka's price is disappearing quickly. They are now [4.40] from [3.90] before Centurion. Clearly the market feels that their best chance of a win has come and gone. South Africa are [1.28].
Tepid betting heat, then? Well, not if Sri Lanka get to bowl first. It wouldn't be eyebrow-raising if the likes of Malinga were able to get the ball dipping and bending, causing consternation in a home batting line-up which is shaky.
We have certainly seen worse [4.4] shots. South Africa's batting foibles is something significant to cling to here. But if Sri Lanka bat first? Forget it. They could be rolled again with the likes of Rabada and Ngidi to the fore. Dale Steyn may even get a game with Nortje stepping away.
David Miller and Faf Du Plessis have excellent records at Kingsmead. Miller has 466 runs in ten, Du Plessis 287 in six. Both, however, failed in that clash against Pakistan. Miller is 15/2 and Du Plessis 11/4 for top SA bat (both with Sportsbook). Both scored centuries on Sri Lanka's last visit in 2017. It is to their advantage that Durban's favourite son, Hashim Amla, has been rested. He has 403 runs in 11. De Kock's record is good, too, though - 227 in four and he is a fair jolly at 5/2. Rassie van der Dussen top scored against Pakistan and is 11/2.
There's no one who stands out for reliability for Sri Lanka, although we draw your attention to the 10s about Thisara. He might have s sniff with the Lankan top order vulnerable to swing up front batting first.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back Sri Lanka batting first [4.4] (0.5pts)