Sri Lanka has had an interesting tournament so far. Even though they have lost a couple of games badly they have managed to stay in contention with a win against Afghanistan and England. They have been a surprise so far as they weren’t considered as a semifinal contender at the start of the tournament. The biggest positive so far for Sri Lanka was the way they have bounced back to defeat the hosts England in a game where there were given no chance. Angelo Mathews who was struggling for runs stepped with the bat and the brilliant Lasith Malinga came through with the ball.
The problem though for Sri Lanka is that the two veterans have to be in supreme form for them to be able to defy all odds and make it to final four. Sri Lanka technically gets to 12 points, which means that if they win their last 3 games they will be in the semi-finals. For South Africa through the loss against Pakistan has ended their disappointing campaign. This is by far their worst performance in a world tournament and they would want to end the tournament with a couple of wins. Their batting has struggled throughout the tournament and their bowling has been extremely inconsistent which hasn’t made life easy for the captain Faf du Plessis.
Both these teams have something to play for, Sri Lanka with a more significant agenda than South Africa but again this will be a tough contest. South Africa who has nothing to lose might finally play with some freedom which we haven’t seen from them through the tournament and Sri Lanka will be hoping that they can bring the same fight which they showed against England here as well.
Head to Head:
South Africa holds the edge over Sri Lanka historically as well as in the World Cups in the 50 over format. They have a 3-1 advantage over Sri Lanka but again they are down on confidence this time and the head to head might not matter.
Angelo Mathews (Sri Lanka): Mathews finally regained his batting form in this tournament. He is the most experienced member of Sri Lanka’s batting line up and he needs to do well if Sri Lanka has to make the Semifinal. His innings of 85 were brilliant and he would hope to repeat the same against South Africa as well.
Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka): Lasith Malinga also had a brilliant game against England. He not only picked up four wickets but also dismissed the English openers cheaply. In a struggling South African batting line up wickets at the top is crucial and Malinga has been bowling well with the new ball.
Faf du Plessis (South Africa): The South African captain hasn’t been able to contribute much with the bat in this World Cup. He started off reasonably well but kind of fell away as the tournament went on. If South Africa has to pick themselves up from this disappointment they would need Faf as both the captain and the batsman to be in the right frame of mind.
Imran Tahir (South Africa): Tahir has been the line warrior for South Africa. Even in the game against Pakistan when the pacers were all over the place, he was the one who provided South Africa with a breakthrough. Tahir probably is playing his last couple of World Cup games for South Africa and he will be very important for their chances in the final two games.
What they said?
“You can take it either way. When you have no pressure of qualifying, they can come and play without any pressure, fearless cricket and that can get them going, so at the same time they can turn up and just want to go home, so you never know.” Said Chandika Hathurusingha about the game and the opposition
“We’ve put in a lot of effort in terms of our preparation, in terms of our strategy, going out there with a good mindset, a strong mindset. But, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to produce and execute our plans. We obviously want to apologize to the public and the South African fans for letting them down. You know when you represent your country it is always a proud moment and you understand that you represent 50, 60 million people. When you put in performances like that, you in a way almost feel ashamed of that.” Said a disappointed Duminy about South Africa’s failed World Cup campaign.
Sri Lanka XI:
Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lasith Malinga
South Africa XI:
Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kasigo Rabada/Beuran Hendricks, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir.
This is a game where you will find two teams who are completely at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of confidence at the start of the contest. Sri Lanka who looked down and out after that crushing loss to New Zealand bounced back in an inspiring fashion but for South Africa through the turnaround never came. Sri Lanka will know despite the struggles of their opposition they would need to play extremely well to win and keep their chances alive. For South Africa, though it is all about a strong finish in a hope that better things lay ahead of them after the tournament is over.