Fortress Newlands awaits

The Newlands crowd is expected to be out in full force once again this summer for the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka as South Africa’s quest for another ODI whitewash continues.

The Sri Lankans will take small comfort from the fact that the clash is contested on the number three-wicket, where the tourists tasted success just a couple of weeks ago in the series-deciding T20 match at Newlands.

But they will find the following statistic very disconcerting and uncomfortable: South Africa has won 27 matches from 32 ODIs since rivalries in this format started at one of the most iconic international stadiums in the world in 1991/92.

AB de Villiers has struck the fifth most runs at the venue in ODIs, and his 481 runs have been smashed at an average of 53.44 and a strike-rate of 99.79.

JP Duminy has scored 281 runs at an average of 40.14, which makes him the eighth most prodigious run-scorer at the venue.

Evan Flint, the curator of Newlands, says there is not much grass or pace in the wicket, but if 500 runs are scored it would be good contest,” he adds.

Flint is at a miss about South Africa’s dominance, but he offers two explanations. “We have so much vociferous support at PPC Newlands. The fans are very knowledgeable and their support is vocal, which inspires the South African team.

“Another factor is that we have some of the best batsmen in the world, and they know the ground intimately. It takes a player like Hashim Amla, for example, only a few deliveries to adapt successfully to the pace of the wicket and to make the correct changes,” he adds.

Newlands is not necessarily a ground where top batsmen can play through the line and on the up from the start like at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium.

And Amla, De Villiers, Duminy and Quinton de Kock, who recently smashed a ton at the ground, would know how to make the adjustments to propel the Proteas to a 4-0 lead in the series of five ODIs.

“We expect a very, very good crowd to assemble for this ODI, although there will still be some places available on match day for fans who are keen to attend. The die-hard fans and our supporters have been South Africa’s great allies through the years and we expect a repeat of this pattern on Tuesday,” said Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association.

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