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Make or break time for South Africa

South Africa play Sri Lanka in a crucial triangular series ODI at Perth on Tuesday.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 16:00 IST

South Africa and Sri Lanka are bracing for a make-or-break encounter when they clash in Tuesday's triangular series limited overs match in Perth with Australia already sewing-up one of the two finals berths.

South African skipper Graeme Smith said on Monday that his team were treating the match as their most important of the tour.

"It's important for us to make sure that tomorrow's game is the most important game on the tour for us and if we get through that one then we move on to Friday and we will (also) make sure that one counts," he told reporters.

"With the young team, it's important not to look too far ahead. It's (important) to concentrate game by game and improve on everything game by game."

Australia beat Sri Lanka by six wickets at the Western Australian Cricket Association Ground on Sunday, the same venue as Tuesday's match, sealing a place in the best-of-three finals series.

South Africa, on eight points, are one point adrift of Sri Lanka, but are in the box seat, having played two fewer games.

Including Tuesday's encounter, they have four left to play while Sri Lanka have two and either team could qualify.

"The sums just mean that we need to win," Smith said.

"Obviously Australia's win last night has left them in a pretty solid position in the competition.

"We've got three or four games this week, starting tomorrow, so we want to make them count."

Batsman Justin Kemp was injured after being hit above the knee during nets practice on Monday, but Smith said it was not a major concern.

"Team management says it doesn't look serious and we'll see how he responds to treatment tonight," he said.

Smith, who's own form has been poor throughout the series, said the early stages of the match were vital for either side.

"I think those first 15 overs whether we bowl or bat are going to be crucial to the game," he said.

Australian openers Adam Gilchrist and Simon Katich made a mockery of the Sri Lankan attack on the bouncy wicket on Sunday with a partnership of 191 runs.

Gilchrist took the leading role, smacking 116 runs off 105 balls while Katich made 82 from 110.

"Australia really barraged them last night," Smith said.

Sri Lanka, who went into that match without captain Marvan Atapattu who was suffering from back spasms, will make a final decision on his fitness on Tuesday morning.

Teams:

South Africa (from): Graeme Smith (c), Boeta Dippenaar, Jacques Rudolph, Herschelle Gibbs, Ashwell Prince, Justin Kemp, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Johan van der Watch, Charl Langeveldt, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn.

Sri Lanka (from): Marvan Atapattu (c), Sanath Jayasuriya, Jehan Mubarak, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Michael Vandort, Mahela Jayawardene, Chaminda Vaas, Russel Arnold, Muttiah Muralitharan, Akalanka Ganegama, Nuwan Kulasekara, Malinga Bandara.