South Africa will have nothing to lose when they face Sri Lanka in their Cricket World Cup match at the Riverside Durham, Chester-le-Street, on Friday.
A win would keep Sri Lanka alive as competition tightens for the three remaining semifinal spots and for that they have to get past a South African side which will only be playing for pride.
As did Pakistan’s win over New Zealand on Wednesday, a win for Sri Lanka over South Africa would really open up the competition and tighten the race to the semifinals.
Sri Lanka are currently seventh, but two points would take them straight up to fifth, just below England, who are themselves in a fight to make the last four now.
Of course, any gain on the points table is only momentary as teams continue to scrap hard and displace each other, but it is precisely for that reason that every point from here on out matters.
South Africa have had their worst campaign ever at the Cricket World Cup. This is only the second time since their debut in the competition, in 1992, that they have failed to advance past the first round.
But there is nothing more dangerous in a multi-team tournament than a team with nothing to lose, and South Africa will be eager to prove just that by picking up wins in their last two matches and upset the teams that still stand a chance.
A key player for Sri Lanka will again be Lasith Malinga. The veteran pacer has shown that he still has the ability to turn matches on their head and is a proven performer under pressure.
Malinga has had a crucial role to play in both of Sri Lanka’s wins so far in the competition, snaring seven wickets across those two games, and figures to be a prominent part of Sri Lanka’s campaign going forward.
For South Africa, Chris Morris only made the squad after an injury took down Anrich Nortje, but he is showing why he deserves his spot.
Morris has been one of the few South African bowlers to have shown a measure of incision in this tournament and has undoubtedly been their best bowler after Imran Tahir.
A bright day is expected at Chester-le-Street. Rain should be a non-entity, so a full game is predicted.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Avishka Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Mendis (wk), Kusal Perera (wk), Thisara Perera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhananjaya de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Beuran Hendricks, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi.
In partnership with ANA and Mediapix