This year the Sri Lankans haven’t lost a series. In fact they have won all but one. Whether it is T-20s, ODIs or Tests, the Sri Lankans have come on top in all forms. Since drawing a three match Test series against Pakistan in January, the Sri Lankans have won Test, ODI and T-20 series against England and Bangladesh apart from winning the Asia Cup and World T-20. That’s quite an impressive record.
That record will be put to the test by the South Africans, who will remain in the island for the whole of July. But, Sri Lanka will look to convert the form they have shown overseas at home as well when the bilateral series against the Proteas kicks off on Sunday. The three ODIs at R. Premadasa Stadium, Pallekele and Suriyawewa will be followed by two Tests in Galle and SSC.
For most part of this year, the Sri Lankans have been away from home and in fact this will be their first series at home in 2014.
There’s added incentive for Angelo Mathews’ side as they can replace India as the second ranked team in the world with a series win. If they complete a whitewash, Sri Lanka will be placed just behind number one ranked Australia.
“That’s certainly at the back of our minds. But we need to take it game by game and play well and see how it goes,” captain Angelo Mathews addressing the media at yesterday’s series launch said.
The South Africans have struggled to cope with the conditions in Sri Lanka during their recent visits. Last year they were beaten 4-1 as their players struggled to come to terms with conditions. They also suffered a 5-0 whitewash in 2004.
South African skipper A.B. de Villiers was asked why the Proteas struggled in conditions here. “Sri Lanka play pretty good cricket. They are a tough team to beat, but we have learned from our past experiences.”
When Sri Lanka won the series comfortably in 2013, the Proteas were without several of their key players like Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn. “It will be a keenly contested series I am sure. They have got all their players back and we expect a tough challenge this time,” Mathews said.
This year has seen the national cricket team hitting a purple patch. In ODI cricket, Sri Lanka has won 12 of their 14 games and in T-20 cricket they have won nine games and lost one. Mathews was asked to explain Sri Lanka’s purple patch. “We have clicked as a team. We find ways to win in tough situations. But we can’t sit on our past laurels. This is a fresh series and we need to put in a lot of hard work,” Mathews said.
by Rex Clementine
Source: The Island (Sri Lanka)