Monday, October 15, 2018 05:46:10 PM
A much-needed series win will be in South Africa's sights when they clash with Sri Lanka in the third one-day international in Pallekele today.
The visitors lead the five-match series 2-0 heading into the third ODI, and while there is still much to do to claim that all-important win, there is realisation that the side's performances have improved dramatically since the despairing Test series.
That has buoyed the visitors - Quinton de Kock, whose 78-ball 87 helped South Africa to a five-wicket win the second ODI, even spoke of the possibility of winning 5-0.
Hashim Amla has been among the runs again, scoring an important run-a-ball 43, while with the ball, the wickets are coming regularly - Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo picked three wickets apiece in the second ODI - and the hosts were restricted to 244/8.
There is positivity. South Africa have won an ODI series in Sri Lanka only once before - 2-1 in 2014 - and the visitors are eager to better that record.
"The guys are working hard, they are positive, and we are playing some good cricket as a team," said Phehlukwayo on the eve of the match. "We are not putting any pressure on ourselves, but it is something that we would like to do.
"Teams don't come here often and win, let alone being 3-0 up, that is something we would like to achieve as a team."
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have much work to do. Angelo Mathews, their captain, had a few stinging words after their loss in Dambulla, saying, "We were a bunch of school kids when it came to today's fielding."
The home side have struggled to put up solid starts. They lost early wickets in both ODIs so far, and have been unable to bounce back from that, especially struggling to power through the late overs.
They have been sloppy in the field - both Amla and de Kock were dropped in the second ODI - and the bowling hasn't been too threatening or consistent. In short, as Niroshan Dickwella said, "If we want to win a match, we can't make so many mistakes."
Avoiding those mistakes will be foremost on their agenda come Sunday for Sri Lanka, especially given South Africa have sensed blood.
Everton's Kevin Mirallas to make Fiorentina loan move
Everton winger Kevin Mirallas is to join Fiorentina on a season-long loan, subject to a medical.
The move has been announced a day after Everton released their squad numbers and gave the 30-year-old the number eight shirt.
Mirallas spent the second half of last season on loan at Olympiakos after moving to the Greek club in January.
However, he failed to make Belgium's squad for the 2018 World Cup and he is now set to leave for the Italian club.
Mirallas joined the Toffees from Olympiakos in 2012 for £6m and has played 186 games for the Merseyside club, scoring 39 goals.
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