By Champika Fernando in Cape Town
Misfiring batsman Dinesh Chandimal will be the sacrificial lamb as he will make way for young Sandun Weerakkody in the playing XI for om Tuesday’s fourth ODI against South Africa at the Newlands Cricket Stadium in Cape Town.
South Africa lead the five-match series 3-0, having beaten Sri Lanka comprehensively in the first three matches.
Though Sri Lanka cannot boast a single consistent performer in the series, Chandimal’s 12 consecutive failures with the bat provide ample motive for the team’s think-tank to swing the axe on the 27-year-old senior batsman.
Chandimal was the country’s highest scorer in one-day cricket last year, having scored 697 runs in 17 matches at 53.61 but his form this season has been woeful, largely contributing for Sri Lanka’s horrendous run in the series in South Africa.
He has struggled across all formats and is yet to score a half century after 12 innings in South Africa. His form has been a major worry for the Sri Lankans.
“He is going through a bad patch just as any other cricketer. But we all know how good a cricketer he is and what he has done for the country. So I am sure he will get his form back,” said the chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya.
“I had a chat with him and he seems very low on confidence. So we decided to rest him for today’s game and bring in Sandun Weerakkody,” Jayasuriya added.
Weerakkody, 23, made his international one-day debut at Port Elizabeth scoring just five runs but was left out of the last two matches as Sri Lanka opted for all-rounders-heavy team.
With Chandimal taking a well deserved rest, Weerakkody will keep wickets and bat at number 5, a place Chandimal long occupied.
However, stand-in skipper Upul Tharanga backed his misfiring deputy to turn things around and get back to scoring runs despite his miserable form with the bat in the series.
“We need to back him. He is the most senior guy and a proven cricketer. Like I said it’s a bad patch and I am confident a big score is just around the corner,” Tharanga said. Chandimal has played 122 one-day internationals scoring 3095 runs at 34.01.
However, Sri Lanka has too few options as they looked to avoid the ignominy of a 5-0 drubbing. Apart from Niroshan Dickwella who has made an impression with his aggressive batting style at the top, the rest of the batting including skipper himself have struggled to fire—a major concern ahead of the fourth ODI.
The hosts will be at full strength once again as they look for a clean sweep in the series before heading to New Zealand on Saturday. The hosts have been faultless in all three departments and are keen to continue to their sublime form as they eye their first global title at this year’s Champions Trophy.
“We are a squad of players and whoever gets an opportunity, that’s an honour in itself and a great opportunity to showcase their talents. You look at Dwaine Pretorius in the last game, getting a Man-of-the-Match performance. That’s what we are about. The guys that get opportunities must be able to put in performances and they have done that,” JP Duminy said.
South Africa: 1. Quinton de Kock (wk), 2. Hashim Amla, 3. Faf du Plessis, 4. AB de Villiers (capt), 5. JP Duminy, 6. Farhaan Behardien, 7. Chris Morris/Wayne Parnell, 8. Dwaine Pretorius, 9. Andile Phehlukwayo, 10. Kagiso Rabada, 11. Imran Tahir/Tabraiz Shamsi
Sri Lanka: 1. Niroshan Dickwella 2. Upul Tharanga (capt), 3. Kusal Mendis, 4. Sandun Weerakkody (wk), 5. Asela Gunaratne, 6. Dhananjaya de Silva, 7. Sachith Pathirana, 8. Lahiru Madushanka, 9. Suranga Lakmal, 10. Lahiru Kumara, 11. Lakshan Sandakan