Hosts look to flatten Proteas

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iol spt apr7 SL Fans AP Sri Lanka look to extend their winning streak at home when they take on the Proteas in the first of three ODIs. Photo: Eranga Jayawardena

Colombo - Sri Lanka will look to extend their red-hot winning streak on home soil when they take on a new-look South Africa in the first of the three one-day internationals on Sunday.

The hosts go into the series on the back of their first ever Test series victory in England which followed a 3-2 victory in the one-dayers, only weeks after they won the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

The player that stood out for the islanders was the redoubtable Kumar Sangakkara, who scored three fifties and a hundred at an average of 85.50 in the Tests.

The 36-year-old left-hander also scored a ton in the ODIs, showing that his hunger for runs had not waned even in the twilight of his glorious career.

Sri Lanka's interim head coach Marvan Atapattu said his team would take confidence from their win over England into the contest against South Africa, but warned against complacency.

“We should be mature enough to understand that it is a totally different ball game playing in Sri Lanka on our types of wickets,” Atapattu, a former Sri Lanka Test player, said.

“We have to start all over again from scratch and build ourselves into a winning position.

“It's a fresh start for us when you are playing at home. As a player you are a bit more under pressure playing at home,” he said.

Sri Lanka, third in the ODI rankings and a rung above South Africa, have had a great run in the 50 over format, winning a five-match series in England as well as carrying off the Asia Cup.

It would take something out of the ordinary then for South Africa, a team in transition after the recent retirement of Test skipper Graeme Smith, to stop the hosts in their track.

With a new Test captain in Hashim Amla and some fresh faces in the Proteas' touring squad - the likes of batsman Stiaan van Zyl and off spinner Dane Piedt - the South Africans are in a rebuilding phase.

The newcomers will look for inspiration to all-rounder Jacques Kallis who has retired from Tests but is looking to sign off from international cricket after next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“There are some fresh young players so it's an exciting time for our team,” said South Africa coach Russell Domingo.

“There are going to be some tough tours and some tough sessions for us but we've got the nucleus of a good side at the moment.”

The last time South Africa toured Sri Lanka in 2013, they were handed a 4-1 drubbing in a limited-overs series, although they did win the T20s 2-1.

The first match is being held in Colombo's Premadasa Stadium followed by matches in Pallekele on June 9 and Hambantota on June 12.

A two-Test series is to begin on July 16.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Ashan Priyanjan, Upul Tharanga, Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal.

South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Jacques Kallis, Ryan Mclaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn.

Sapa-AFP


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