Bloemfontein: At 2-0 up against a Sri Lankan team fighting slump in form, hosts South Africa sniff the opportunity to take a wining lead in the five-match ODI series here in the third ODI on Tuesday.
Like India in Australia, the bad form of seniors Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara has followed the visitors like a shadow in the Test series as well as the first two matches of the ODI series. Though they showed bit of a fight in the second ODI, South Africa proved too good to be beaten at home, winning the match by a comfortable margin of five wickets in the end.
However, the Lankans are unlikely to make any changes and would rather wait for their big guns to fire. Dinesh Chandimal's 92 not out cropped up as hope in East London and should add strength to shaky middle order. But the fight is likely to be between Lasith Malinga's toe-crushing yorkers and the hosts' batting prowess, which will be slightly reduced in the absence of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis.
Malinga will be partnered by Nuwan Kulasekara, Dhammika Prasad and all-rounder Angelo Mathews in the pace attack. Whereas Rangana Herath is likely to remain the lone spinner in the XI, even though the injured Ajantha Mendis has been replaced by off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake in the squad for the remainder of the series.
For the hosts, father-to-be Amla is on a paternal leave while Kallis had made himself available for just the first two ODIs. They have been replaced by Alviro Petersen, who will open with Graeme Smith, and the aggressive Colin Ingram. Rory Kleinveldt has also made way for Test-hero Vernon Philander in the squad. Skipper AB de Villiers, Ingram, JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis will form the strong middle order, with de Villiers performing the dual role of a wicketkeeper-batsman.
South Africa's bowling looks settled with Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel in the pace attack and Robin Petersen taking care of spin. de Villiers may be hard-pressed to play the in-form Philander, but the hosts are unlikely to replace the run-containing Petersen or wicket-taking Tsotsobe before winning the series.
The Springbok Park pitch here is likely to be a batsman's paradise, with the last ODI played at the venue saw 638 runs being scored.