In much changed climes since they last met in changed player outlook, Sri Lanka and South Africa renew rivalry in the ODI day-night opener today at the R. Premadasa International Stadium. Both sides have undergone captaincy changes with Dasun Shanaka in the big boots worn by Dimuth Karunaratne, and Temba Bavuma instead of Faf de Plussis. Still significantly both camps coming out sans longtime campaigners in an infusion of new blood is the scenario of questing for glory. In that backdrop of no Mathews, Karunaratne and the likes of the old guard in the Lankan line up and the chagrin a of du Plessis or Dale Steyn of the old bloc, indeed, which of the two sides call the shots will be challenging reality time to both camps.
While South Africa bask in a 44 to 31 won ratio from past exchanges, however, on paper, Sri Lanka does enjoy a distinct advantage tucked into a cast blend of seasoned and exciting strokemakers to tilt the balance on the batting front that is the center piece to dictating instant cricket. In the ranks is the explosive Kusal Janith Perera who clubbed an unbeaten match winning century in a test match in the Protea backyard few years ago.
Interestingly, the opening contest will pit the two captains in the fervour of delivering tactically in leading from the front as much as performance. Both all-rounders, the challenge is hieghtening in comparisson. Therein, Dasun Shanaka, on paper has the edge having led his country to two convincing wins against Pakistan and India in the shorter T20 version as it is when Sri Lanka’s one-day image has declined.
A leverage to his success is his robust pinch hitting prowess rounded as a wicket taking breakthrough medium pacie.
As for Temba Bavuma, being the first South African skipper to score a ton is heady stuff though his highest against Sri Lanka is 15. In the bowling both sides posses some rearing to go campaignes.