Colombo - Captain AB de Villiers wants the Proteas to use the tour of Sri Lanka to team-build toward the cricket World Cup in two years, and says his young players are learning to perform without the stars.
He said on Tuesday, ahead of five ODI's and three T20's, that his team was still trying to find its feet but was getting used to being without players such as Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn.
"It's important for us to get combinations ready when we do lose our experienced players, specially looking at the 2015 World Cup.
"It's a great opportunity for us to perform without them," de Villiers said.
The Proteas and Sri Lanka were both semi-finalists in last month's Champions Trophy in England and Wales.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews will miss the first two one-day matches because of a suspension for maintaining a slow-over rate in last week's final of a tri-series in West Indies also involving India.
With regular vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal out of form, it is still unclear who will lead the side in Mathews' absence.
The tour starts with a practice game ahead of Saturday's first ODI in Colombo.