The dangling carrot in front of Sri Lanka and South Africa ahead of the one-off T20I - clearly bereft of any context - is a chance to sign off on a winning note. The two teams have engaged in two Tests and five ODIs over exactly one month since July 12, and have taken a big share of the series pie each - Sri Lanka won the two Tests and South Africa bagged the ODI series 3-2. With the World T20 more than two years away, there's hardly anything to play for in the fixture that brings down the curtains on the tour.
This is the sort of situation when there's perhaps more to read into India captain Virat Kohli's first press conference in England earlier in July. Questions were thrown at him about the point of playing a three-match T20I series when the main focus was bound to be on the ODIs that would follow, because of the upcoming World Cup, and the subsequent Test series. He'd said: "Few teams have said, it has been inconsequential... I would agree to that if it happens at the fag end of the tour, at the start of any tour any games you get to play, you are as excited as the other team."
It's a valid argument, but one for some other time. Because, come Tuesday, Sri Lanka Cricket might have ticket sales as proof to rubbish the hullabaloo surrounding talks about context and timing.
When: Sri Lanka vs South Africa, one-off T20I, August 14, 7:00 PM Local time
Where: R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
What to expect: The fifth ODI was played at the same venue on Sunday, and showed conduciveness to run-making and spin bowling.
Sri Lanka showed great signs of recovery from 0-3 down in the ODI series to gain a respectable series scoreline of 2-3, and will back themselves to keep that forward march going. But their previous T20I outings came in the Nidahas Trophy at home, where both India and Bangladesh outperformed them. The one advantage of a major tournament not being around any time soon is the opportunity of trying out bench strength, and Sri Lanka will look to do just that.
Squad: Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera(w), Thisara Perera, Angelo Mathews(c), Dasun Shanaka, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Shehan Jayasuriya, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Lahiru Kumara, Binura Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan
As was the case against India at home, South Africa may opt to rest some of their seniors for the one-off fixture.
Squad: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock(w), Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Jean-Paul Duminy(c), Willem Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Junior Dala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi