Sri Lanka might have faced setbacks on the tour in the shape of Angelo Matthews’ injury during the Twenty20 Internationals and a 3-0 drubbing in the Test series, but they enter the One-Day Internationals with momentum on their side.
The five-wicket victory to seal the series in the last T20I under Dinesh Chandimal have uplifted the mood of the Sri Lankan dressing room. Their third captain of the tour, Upul Tharanga, will lead a side full of self-believe, which was lacking two matches ago.
Sri Lanka will look to start off the series with a win at Port Elizabeth where they played their last ODI 14 years ago in the 2003 World Cup semi-final against Australia. They lost their last ODI series 3-2 in South Africa and will look to better their one-day record in the country. They currently have just seven wins against 15 losses in 23 matches.
--- Stat Alert: Sri Lanka has never won an ODI series in South Africa. ---
The South African side is boosted by their skipper AB De Villier’s return after six months.
"Even though we feel that we are a more talented and a more skillful and a better group of players than Sri Lanka, we know they are very dangerous at the moment,” Ab De Villiers said on the eve of the series. “Being very motivated with lots of young talent that can come good at certain times. We are very aware of that."
The Proteas captain played a terrific 63-run knock during the third T20I which gave an impression that he never left cricket.
However, he must have been taken aback on the eve of the first ODI due to an abdominal injury of the 20-year-old Lungi Ngidi that has ruled him out of the series.
But Kagiso Rabada’s return to the national side, after being rested for the three T20Is, will sent chills down the Lankan batting camp.