ODI series preview: Sri Lanka v South Africa

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The series should be a close one, given Sri Lanka's recent performances at both the ICC event and in the Windies, while the Proteas have not played since being knocked out by England.

The last time these two sides played an ODI series against each other, it was in South Africa and the Proteas had a different coach and a rather different line up, while Sri Lanka got better as the games progressed.

The five match series saw the Proteas win 3-2, despite winning the first three games, and AB de Villiers was the top run-scorer. This time, we're on the sub-continent, and Russell Domingo is in charge of his first tour as Proteas' head coach.

He goes into the series with a few headaches, mostly to do with injuries. He has no Dale Steyn to call on, no Graeme Smith, and no Jacques Kallis, with the first two injured and the latter ruling himself out of the game until October.

Added to this, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe have picked up niggles since arriving in Colombo. Morkel missed the Champions Trophy due to injury, and has now picked up a quad strain, while Tsotsobe has done his ankle some damage.

It will depend on a fitness Test ahead of the first ODI on Friday to determine if they can play. Otherwise, Domingo will have to go with the trio or Rory Kleinveldt, Chris Morris and Ryan McLaren.

The last of those was South Africa's best bowler at the ICC event, where they were knocked out in the semi-finals by England after a typically erratic performance overall. They have vowed to be more 'consistent' in this series, as they look to prepare for the 2015 World Cup.

The series should be a close one, given Sri Lanka's recent performances at both the ICC event and in the Windies, while the Proteas have not played since being knocked out by England. The visitors will need their fragile batting line-up to finally find some steel if they are to be competitive.

South Africa will also need De Villiers to stay fit, given he will be keeping wicket and batting at four, despite Quinton de Kock in the squad and available to take up the gloves. David Miller will also be expected to perform after a good year so far.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, are able to call on veteran batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan, who picked up a calf injury in England and thus missed the tri-series in the Caribbean earlier this month. Upul Tharanga has been retained after a good showing in the West Indies.

All-rounder Thisara Perera has been recalled, with Jeevan Mendis and Kushal Perera dropped. Thisara will have to do well if he plays, as he is in and out of the side like a yo-yo.

The hosts will be captained by 23-year-old Dinesh Chandimal for the first two matches, as Angelo Mathews is suspended due to slow over rates in the tri-series. This will make Chandimal the youngest Sri Lankan captain.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, their skipper Angelo Mathews is always vital as he can perform with both bat and ball, but as he's out for the first two games, we're going to say <b>Rangana Herath</b> could prove crucial. He's in form, and he was the bowler that bothered the Proteas most in the series last year.

South Africa will look to their captain <b>AB de Villiers</b> for inspiration with the bat. He was the top scorer last year by 100 runs, and combined with his athleticism in the field, his success will be the team's success.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2012, 5th ODI: Sri Lanka won by two wickets in Johannesburg<br>2012, 4th ODI: Sri Lanka won by five wickets in Kimberley<br>2012, 3rd ODI: South Africa won by four runs in Bloemfontein<br>2012, 2nd ODI: South Africa won by five wickets in East London<br>2012, 1st ODI: South Africa won by 258 runs in Paarl

<b>Squads</b><br><i>Sri Lanka:</i> Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne (vice capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Perera, Jehan Mubarak, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Shaminda Eranga, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews (from game three onwards)

<i>South Africa</i>: AB de Villiers (capt.), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan Mclaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

<b>Fixtures – all 09:00 GMT (11:00 SAST)</b><br>1st ODI: 20 July, Colombo<br>2nd ODI: 23 July, Colombo<br>3rd ODI: 26 July Pallekele<br>4th ODI: 28 July, Pallekele<br>5th ODI: 31 July, Colombo

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