While the Proteas managed to return to winning ways and disposed of Sri Lanka relatively easily in the first ODI at the weekend, they still need to come up with answers to a couple of nagging doubts ahead of the second match at the same Dambulla venue on Wednesday.
The magnificent new-ball bowling of Kagiso Rabada, with fine support from Lungi Ngidi, reduced the hapless Sri Lankan top-order to 36/5, but there is unlikely to be quite as much pace and bounce, nor movement, on offer next time round.
It will be a concern for the Proteas that the back-up seamers – Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Mulder – both failed to fire, being smashed for 64 runs in their combined six overs as Kusal and Thisara Perera hammered 92 off just 55 balls.
That Sri Lanka were restricted to 194 all out, which they scored in just 34-and-a-half overs, was almost entirely due to Rabada’s brilliance up front and wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi’s wicket-taking ability in the middle overs.
If Sri Lanka come up with an answer against those two strike bowlers, the Proteas could be faced with a much bigger total in the second ODI.
And while Quinton de Kock made an encouraging return to form, Faf du Plessis continued his run-scoring ways and JP Duminy batted superbly, the visitors will still be worried about Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram once again missing out.
Were it not for Duminy’s refreshing unbeaten half-century, scored off just 32 balls, South Africa were one wicket away from a really tight run-chase, despite their moderate target.
Tomorrow’s ODI might be the last-chance saloon for Markram for the immediate future as the exciting youngster has scored just 41 runs in seven innings on tour, being dismissed lbw for a firstball duck by spinner Akila Dananjaya
at the weekend.
Reeza Hendricks is no doubt itching for a chance to make his ODI debut following his excellent 59 off 54 balls under pressure in the warm-up game.