Preview – Buoyant Sri Lanka might go past downcast South Africa.
South Africa is going through a nightmarish World Cup. After losing their last game against Pakistan, the Proteas are now languishing at the 9th spot in the points table with just 3 points in 7 games at a Net Run Rate of -0.324. South Africa has managed only one victory, against Afghanistan, and now has no hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will be buoyant after taking down tournament favorites England in their last game. That one victory has opened up the tournament and has taken Sri Lanka at the 5th place in the points table with 6 points in 6 games at a Net Run Rate of -1.119.
When the two teams battle it out for their ICC World Cup 2019 clash at Chester-le-Street on June 28, Sri Lanka will be confident of taking out a beleaguered and downcast South Africa. Even though South Africa has beaten Sri Lanka five times in the last 5 ODIs between the two sides, their current form in the ongoing World Cup has been horrible, and Sri Lanka has tasted blood at the right time.
South Africa’s batting has been in shambles, and no one has been able to inspire confidence. Batsmen like Quinton de Kock, captain Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller have all got starts at different points but have failed to convert them into big ones. Their bowling too has lacked fire. Kagiso Rabada, the young pacer, has been a real disappointment for the team managing only six wickets so far and a shabby average of 50.83. Leg-spinner Imran Tahir (10 wickets) and seamer Chris Morris (9 wickets) have been impressive in parts, but that hasn’t been enough.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, hasn’t been high either. But they have still been fighting. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been the leading the run charts for the team and will also be happy that veteran Angelo Matthews has got his form back with a responsible 85* against England. The others like Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis would also be the ones to watch out for in this game.
Sri Lanka’s bowling has been led by the old warhorse Lasith Malinga whose sensational spell of 4-43 against England won them the game. Isuru Udana has been right too and might be effective against the weak South African middle-order. Off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva, who took 3-32 against England, could be the primary weapon against South Africa given their weakness against spin bowling.
Pitch Conditions and Sri Lanka vs South Africa Prediction:
The pitch at Chester-le-Street is not known to be exceedingly in favor of batsmen, and only three scores of 300+ have been scored on this venue with the highest being 314-4 by England. The wicket should be accurate, and both bowlers and batsmen will have something in it.
If the pitch turns out to be slow, then the spinners will come in, and the team batting first should get 250+. Chasing might be tough, and given the inconsistency in batting from both the sides, this might well be a low-scoring game with Sri Lanka having an edge because of their confidence.