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17-Jan-2012 02:58:00 GMT
South Africa v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Bloemfontein

Proteas Aiming for Series Win

Bloemfontein: The Proteas have set their sights firmly on the series, ahead of the third Sunfoil One-Day International (ODI) taking place at Chevrolet Park in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

South Africa hold a 2-0 advantage in the five-match series, and if victory is achieved, it will be the first time in nearly 20 years that a series triumph is achieved in the city of roses.

“It’s important for us to win the series, that is our first aim,” commented de Villiers. “A win would help with my self-confidence as captain, it’s a very big game for us, we are not taking it lightly. There are a few guys sitting out but there are also new exciting players and I think the foundation of the squad is still intact and everything looks good.” 

Alviro Peterson, Colin Ingram and Vernon Philander will bring the excitement that de Villiers alluded to, as Gary Kirsten and the selectors look to try out possible combinations ahead of a long and busy season.

There is a massive tour of New Zealand coming up, and it was important for us to try a few combinations. The boys coming into the side are not unknown; it’s very exciting for us and I hope they do really well.

For now, the focus is Sri Lanka, who can still make a comeback in the series. A fast high-scoring match is anticipated in Tuesday’s Day/Night encounter, where the average first innings scores is around 250 runs in international matches.  South Africa scored a mammoth 351 for 6 in their previous match at the ground against Zimbabwe in 2010, an innings that was highlight by debutant centurion Colin Ingram as well as Hashim Amla.

I think it’s going to be a high scoring game, I’m expecting a bit more runs here. Bloemfontein always comes up with a good wicket, hopefully there will be a bit more bounce, it looks well prepared but once again you can only tell on the day. Once we get a few overs in we’ll adapt as quickly a possible.

If they play, it will be a sentimental match for Robin Peterson and Morne Morkel, as it will be their 50th ODI cap for South Africa. A win will also mark a special achievement for de Villiers, as he guns for his maiden ODI series victory as captain.

Fernando could sit out once again with the knee injury that prevented him from playing in East London. Allrounder Kosala Kulasekara hasn't contributed in the first two games, and might make way for Thisara Perera. The pitch will be flat, hard and full of runs, and Sri Lanka were reportedly considering playing a second spinner. However, the uncapped Sachithra Senanayake, who was called up to replace Mendis, is yet to reach South Africa due to visa delays.

Ingram and Petersen are almost certain to play. The more interesting selection could be Vernon Philander, who, on Test form, deserves to walk into the XI. However, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel have bowled well enough to retain their spots in the XI. If Philander has to play, Dale Steyn may have to be benched, which won't be a bad idea given the workload he has endured in recent months. South Africa may wait till the series is won before doing that.

Teams from

South Africa:
Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers (capt & wk), Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Johan Botha, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Albie Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Colin Ingram.

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dilhara Fernando, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Thissara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Kulasekara, Kosala Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Upul Tharanga, Sachithra Senanayake.

Stats and trivia
Sri Lanka have played five completed games in Bloemfontein, with a 2-3 win-loss record. All three defeats came against the hosts
With six wickets in two games, Johan Botha has taken more wickets at this venue than any of the other bowlers who might play on Tuesday. The games were against Kenya and Zimbabwe, though.

Match facts
Tuesday January 17, 2012 (day/night)
Start time 1430 local (1230 GMT)

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