Proteas eye Sri Lanka success following more off-field issues

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The Proteas were rocked by the resignation of assistant coach Enoch Nkwe last week as they prepared to travel to Sri Lanka.

Nkwe’s decision to quit was put down to personal ambitions and his concerns about the functioning and culture of the team environment.

Proteas white-ball captain Temba Bavuma is eager to meet Nkwe on his return from Sri Lanka to discuss his reasons for stepping down.

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“I haven’t had an opportunity to have a formal discussion with Enoch but probably when I get back to South Africa, I’d like to sit down with him and maybe unpack it a bit,” Bavuma said.

“I’d like to hear it from him. He is the subject here, at the end of the day. If there is merit [to Nkwe’s concerns], as a member of the team, it’s something I will take on board and have a discussion amongst the team.”

Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock has been rested for the ODI series, while paceman Lungi Ngidi misses out for personal reasons and batsman David Miller (hamstring) is also absent.

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All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius is set to return at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo in a week that saw legendary South Africa paceman Dale Steyn announce his retirement.

Dinesh Chandimal makes his Sri Lanka return after a five-month absence, with Dasun Shanaka captaining the side in a series that forms part of the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.

SHANAKA BULLISH AFTER INDIA TRIUMPH

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Sri Lanka came from behind to secure a 2-1 Twenty20 series win over India in July.

Skipper Shanaka is eager to build on that triumph at the expense of the Proteas on home soil, with Lahiru Madushanka, Maheesh Theekshana, and Pulina Tharanga in contention to make their debuts.

Shanaka said: “I think we have the winning momentum [following two T20I wins against India], and feel that if our spinners can get a lot of wickets, we should be able to win. We have a lot of advantages in this series.

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“We have a lot of options on the spin front. We’ve got Wanindu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Maheesh Theekshana, Ramesh Mendis (offspin), Praveen Jayawickrama and other options. They’re all in a good rhythm. I’m looking to play three spinners in the team. South Africa always have a good pace attack. But I think I can guarantee that we have the better spin-bowling contingent at the moment. I trust our team’s strength.”

HENDRICKS HOPING TO STRIKE BLOWS AFTER TAKING ONE

There was a scare for South Africa when Beuran Hendricks was struck above the eye by a drive from Pretorius during a practice session.

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The seamer passed a concussion test and is determined to make his mark in Sri Lanka.

He said: “It’s a dream to play for my country, I’m very proud to play for my country, and that’s the patience for me. I don’t take anything for granted when I’m at this level. I make sure that I’m fully focused and fully energised when I’m at this level.

“What goes on behind the scenes is out of my control. I’ve just got to make sure that I’ve prepared well, when I come on tour I’m fully fit, I need to be ahead of certain guys. Those are the things that run through my mind when I’m in this set-up. Try to make sure that I stay patient.”

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KEY OPTA FACTS

– The last time South Africa toured Sri Lanka for a white-ball series was in 2018, when the tourists won a five-match ODI series 3-2. – The Proteas have won each of their past four multi-game bilateral ODI series against Sri Lanka. – Sri Lanka have scored 40 per cent of their runs from boundaries in ODIs this year. Only Bangladesh have a lower rate (37%). – South Africa have averaged a boundary every 8.8 balls in the 50-over format since the start of 2021. Only England and India have a better rate in this time (8.1).

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