A few months ago, it would have been a forgone conclusion as to what the result of this match might have been.
Sri Lanka’s ODI outfit looked disjointed and bereft of ideas when they were touring South Africa, and lost that bi-lateral series 5-0.
This time though, the tables have turned and South Africa have already been eliminated from the World Cup, with two group stage games still left to play, and Sri Lanka have proved to be the surprise package, upsetting hosts England to bring the tournament back to life.
In many ways, one would have expected South Africa to be in the race and the Lankans to be one of the first teams eliminated but they are now placed seventh with six points from six games, just two points away from fourth ranked England.
The Proteas, after only one win out of seven games, that too against Afghanistan who have been poor this tournament, will be wondering how so many of their big players underperformed so badly, even though they didn’t start off as one of the favourites.
None of their top order batsmen got a century. Big names like Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis have all gotten the odd half century but nothing substantial to make a winning difference.
The same can be said for their bowlers. Kagiso Rabada hasn’t been at his devastating best and his pace has been down, while Dale Steyn was sent back home after failing to recover from an injury picked up in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Only Imran Tahir has had a decent tournament as he became South Africa’s all time leading wicket taker in World Cups.
As for Sri Lanka, a few of their most experienced players have stood up and made winning contributions, especially the way Lasith Malinga bowled against England to help them win. Angelo Mathews also played a good knock and the Sri Lankan openers have been good so far, although the batting still remains susceptible to a collapse.
Aiden Markram, touted to be South Africa’s next captain once again had a poor outing with a bat and he could be replaced by JP Duminy, who had a good performance against Sri Lanka, the last time these two teams met in the 2015 World Cup.
South Africa’s Probable XI: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Aiden Markram/JP Duminy, 4 Faf du Plessis (capt), 5 Rassie van der Dussen, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Imran Tahir
The latest reports from the Sri Lankan camp indicate that Nuwan Pradeep is down with a fever and could miss the match. As a result Suranga Lakmal should most likely come in, a bowler who has done well against South Africa recently.
Sri Lanka’s Probable XI: 1 Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Avishka Fernando, 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Jeevan Mendis, 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Suranga Lakmal
Pitch and Weather
This will be the first game to be played at Chester-le-Street this World Cup and a new wicket should provide assistance for the bowlers in the morning.
Teams that have chased have won three of their last five games and nine out of 16 games overall so both teams might want to bowl first after winning the toss.
The weather is forecasted to be sunny with no chance of rain so a full 100-over game should be possible.