DURBAN - One random T20 International, chucked in at the end of the tour. Because, well, because that is the done thing around the world.
South Africa’s Tour of Sri Lanka has had plenty of intrigue, with a Test series that laid bare some weaknesses, and then an ODI series that had equal parts encouragement and worrying symptoms.
Had their tour ended on Sunday, the Proteas would already be home, picking the bones from what was a far more difficult tour than they might have hoped for. Instead, they are still in Colombo, and looking to rouse themselves for that wonderful thing lumped on the end of tours, the one-off T20 International.
Sri Lanka, on the back of two 50-over wins to finally snap a truly miserable run of form, will be very confident of finishing off this exchange of cultures with another victory. Given the revelations of spin headaches from Quinton de Kock, do not be surprised to see Sri Lanka again pay scant disregard to anyone whose run-up is longer than six paces.
The slow ball is most certainly in fashion in Sri Lanka, and even South Africa has seen their slow men looping their deliveries more and more as the trip wore on. JP Duminy has emerged from this limited-overs portion of the trip with a wealth of confidence restored.
Even though the Proteas limped to the finish line of the ODI series, his assertive batting in the middle periods, and some very clever bowling, saw to it that he was a popular choice for the man of the series gong. Duminy showed that there is still plenty of gas in the tank and, given the necessary freedom, he could give the Proteas something menacing in the middle-order.
For now, however, the experienced left-hander will have to gather his thoughts on how to cajole one last performance from his travel-weary compatriots. Many in the Proteas squad have zig-zagged across the Sri Lankan island for the past month and a bit, and they would like to leave with the momentum back in their corner again.
Duminy will lead a side that could again see some changes from that which did duty in the final ODI. David Miller was a casualty for Aiden Markram, but his boundary-clearing ability should see to it that he returns to the park, while Tabraiz Shamsi is also set for a return to action.
Quinton de Kock has had an exhausting month, saddled with bleated responsibility as well as batting and keeping in key positions. The gloves may well go to Heinrich Klaasen for the night, and Reeza Hendricks handed a chance to blaze upfront with the bat.
There is plenty of experimentation on the cards, then. But, with the build-up to the World Cup the main priority over the next 10 months, the result of this random T20 International will be forgotten as soon as South Africa gets on the plane back home. Play in Colombo starts at 3pm.