The final build up is a tensed 1-all throwback to both camps flexing their muscles for the must win crunch third ODI decider of the winner stakes when hosts Sri Lanka and South Africa face off following fluctuating fortunes pitting them on such a knife thin even keel in a therein heavyweight in Tuesday’s contest at the R. Premadasa International Stadium.
That the Sri Lankans have been pushed back by from that initial point of strength of having drawn first blood in rampaging style by the South Africans even sans their injured skipper Temba Bavuma reflecting sky high morale has indeed put the onus on Dasun Shanaka’s charges that it is reality time for out of the box cricket if Sri Lanka is to topple South Africa for that pot of gold.
That stand in captain Keshev Maharaj’s cast have reinsulated themselves as the favourites by that barn storming win in a two-way demonstration, nearly shocking the Lankans out of their 300-run Everest, is certainly an iceberg the Lankan camp will have to game plan against if Sri Lanka is to stop the high riding South Africans who have clearly stamped themselves in the awesome of a facile all-round combination. If their batting boasts of match winning stuff, not in just one or two top notchers to carry the batting through, the bowling as much is of potential wicket takers in Kagisso Rabada’s pace and Samshi’s dèft spin while their fielding is as high class.
In that ground reality, Sri Lanka do face the reality of plugging both areas. On the batting front, the lesson from Saturday’s defeat is that in crisis, there is not an Angelo Mathews or Kusal Janith Perera to deliver.
With the top order failing, there was no resolve down the line with bar the gallantry of young Charith Asalanka who in a lost cause did mount for the future of a solid left-hander in the making that stirs the blood in a throwback of that species of the Australian Neil Harvey, Allan Border, and that South African great Greame Pollock. Indef. in yet early days, at just 22 years, Sri Lanka’s former Richmond College product from down South Galle, has mounted the big stage of an exciting strokemaker for any situation.
In perspective, in this make or break decider, blooding amother youth find in another exciting strokemaker Kamindu Mendis tapping on the door for the big call up could well be the answer to Sri Lanka’s woes in the crunch time head to head. The youngster has has descended from a rousin U19 youth career and topped the recent domestic T20 run up tourney to the SA Series as the second highest scorer. Given the air in his strokeplay, blooding kamindu Mendis could well be the stepping stone kindling the debuting of Australia’s Greg Chappell who decorated the Test cricketing hemisphere by an illustrious ton. Certainly young Mendis performances border on great expectations like Asalanka, and the youmgster has done much to deserve the big break of the starry eyed rearing to go.
On the bowling front as well. the Lankan camp need quick fix answers to stopping the highly ominous Protea batting neucleus. The spinners have not only been found wanting that turn matches, but also taken quite some stick. Interestingly, skipper Dasun Shanaka aired post-match that the siee would pace reinforced in the decider. However, his failure to persist with Chamika Karunaratne after the early breakthrough of the prize wicket of the first game centurion Aiden Markram on Saturday, and bringing him back as late as after the 40th over could well have been the price Sri Lanka had to pay after the horses had bolted.
In the final analysis, the deciding contest will be abut which of the two sides unleashes the type of intense cricket in the electrifying instant version of the game.