Chester-Le-Street: Sri Lanka will aim for nothing but a win to keep themselves alive in the ongoing World Cup when they take on South Africa at the Riverside Cricket Stadium on Friday.
Sri Lanka are currently seventh in the standings with two wins and two no-results, but two points would take them straight up to fifth, just below England, who are themselves in a fight to make the last four.
Just like Pakistan’s win over New Zealand opened up the tournament, same would happen if the Lankan Tigers manage to defeat the Proteas.
For that, Sri Lanka will hope for their players to come out with an inspiring performance as they did against England where they defended 233. Lasith Malinga will once again be the key for Sri Lanka’s success in what is a do-or-die game for them.
Being swept 5-0 in South Africa two months ago means nothing to the Sri Lankans ahead of their rematch.
Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha said his team’s resurgence brought confidence for Friday’s game against the struggling South Africans, who’re already out of contention for the semi-finals.
“Obviously, we think that we have a good chance because we are coming off two wins — and a very good win against England,” Hathurusingha said. “Although we didn’t play our best cricket to win the game in terms of batting (against England), I think we had a perfect bowling display, defending that target.”
South Africa will aim to regain some lost pride with a consolation victory against Sri Lanka. Since their debut in 1992, this has been the worst World Cup campaign for the Proteas as they have failed to go even past the group stage. With just a win from seven games, the Faf du Plessis led side are currently placed second last in the 10-team table.
However, with nothing to lose, South Africa will be eager to prove themselves by winning their remaining two matches and upset the teams that still stand a chance.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Sayed Ahmad Shirzad has been approved as fellow paceman Aftab Alam’s replacement for the remainder of the World Cup, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Thursday.
The ICC said Alam, who had taken four wickets in three matches during the tournament, had been replaced under “under exceptional circumstances” without providing details.
Shirzad has played only one ODI in his career but is in line to feature in Afghanistan’s remaining two games against Pakistan on Saturday and West Indies on July 4.
Catch the match
Sri Lanka v South Africa
Venue: The Riverside, Chester-Le-Street
Start time: 1.30pm
Broadcast: OSN Sports