Sri Lanka’s win against England last week came as a surprise for many cricket experts and also a blessing in disguise for other teams participating in the tournament. The result meant that teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka themselves still have a good chance to qualify for the semi-finals.
Moreover, as a result of England’s defeat against Australia, they can no more be considered as the favourites qualify for the semifinals, especially with their next two games to be played against New Zealand and India.
As a result of a lacklustre performance, South Africa have been knocked out of the tournament but with nothing to lose, the Proteas might come hard at Sri Lanka on Friday. Kagiso Rabada hasn’t been anywhere close to his best in the tournament, hence the Proteas find themselves in such a chaos. With only two games to go, South Africa are playing for pride, hence a much better and a pressure-free performance could be expected.
Talking about South Africa’s approach in the upcoming game, Sri Lanka’s coach Chandika Hathurusingha, on the eve of the match, 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.”
For South Africa, more than anyone else, it has been their most experienced bowler – Imran Tahir who has been simply exceptional. If only he had got support from other pacers in the team, South Africa could have probably been in a better position at this stage of the tournament. Sri Lanka need to be careful against Tahir and addressing the threat the legspinner possesses, Hathurusingha said, “He is a world-class bowler. It is not only because we have the weakness of playing spin. I think our guys play spin okay, but he’s a world-class performer.”
Angelo Mathews didn’t have a great start to his World Cup campaign, but it was due to his pivotal knock against England that Sri Lanka managed to topple the hosts. “He showed a lot of mental resilience in that innings (against England),” said the Sri Lankan coach.
Sri Lanka’s finishers Thisara Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva are yet to click in the tournament and the players have been practising hard in the nets. “We have been practicing a lot of power hitting with various ways of using the nets facilities we have. We know that what they can produce and we still back them to do that, so hopefully next few games they come off,” he added.
Regarding Nuwan Pradeep’s fitness, the coach said, “He is going to see a doctor today and then I will know in the evening what the situation is with him.”