AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Sri Lanka v South Africa

The World Cup has suddenly become wide open and Sri Lanka are the next team with a do or die game as they face South Africa at Chester-le-Street today. Sri Lanka are currently seventh, but a win today would take them just below England, who are themselves in a fight to make the last four now with New Zealand and India set to come for the hosts.

That is a huge opportunity for a side that hasn’t sparkled a huge amount in this World Cup, as they face a Proteas side that is already eliminated. This has been South Africa’s worst ever World Cup – it’s only the second time that they’ve failed to make it past the first round – the last was in 1992 when they were making their World Cup debut.

Their issue has been getting big totals on the board. Six of their batsmen average 29 or better, but none have made 70 in their six matches so far. Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, and Andile Phehlukwayo all made 30 but didn’t score anything more than 63 when chasing against Pakistan and a number of useful starts haven’t been turned into big scores consistently through the tournament.

With the ball, they have had success – Imran Tahir has taken 10 wickets and Chris Morris is not far behind with nine to boot – and they will hope those two are joined by Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi in having a strong day with the ball.

Sri Lanka are in with a shout thanks to a mix of fortunate weather events – they’ve earned two points thanks to washouts – and two tight wins, the latest coming when they shocked England at Old Trafford. They are all about the bowlers – their win against Afghanistan came thanks to outstanding spells from Nuwan Pradeep and Lasith Malinga. And against England, it was Malinga who did the damage, taking the wickets of Vince, Bairstow, Root and Butler to take the power out of England’s chase, allowing Dhananjaya de Silva to tempt chasing English batsmen into giving cheap wickets.

Malinga might be Sri Lanka’s best bet to get into the South African batting line up. He was right back to his very best against England and is facing a side which has passed 300 only once – and even then they did so whilst losing nine wickets, so at some point, one will assume that he can manufacture plenty of chances.

Whilst Sri Lanka have struggled for runs, and South Africa’s batsmen have struggled to make big totals, we should see a decent betting contest on a fresh Chester-le-Street pitch. England chased down 311 within 45 overs here last year and both sides will be targeting around the same total. Sri Lanka’s innings totals have been low, meaning that the race to be their top batsman is a competitive one, and but Dimuth Karunaratne, who opens, might have a better chance than most. He managed to post 52 against the Black Caps when no-one else got close on the same team, and 30 against Afghanistan before he nearly scored a century with 97 against Australia. If he avoids an early wicket, he looks to be in decent touch to have a favourite’s chance.

For South Africa, Chris Morris might lead the way. He got no purchase against Pakistan, but took 3/49 against New Zealand and 3/13 against Afghanistan and a similar effort will give him a strong.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
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BACK Dimuth Karunaratne Sri Lanka Top Run Scorer
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BACK Chris Morris South Africa Top Wicket Taker
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BACK Faf du Plessis South Africa Top Run Scorer
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