Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sri Lanka to Collide With South Africa in Sydney as the CWC15 Quarter Finals get Underway!

Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on 18th March 2015 - Match Preview

So, the much awaited Quarter Finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will finally be underway with the Sri Lankans taking on the South Africans in Sydney.

The Sri Lankans are the 1996 champions and they have been the most consistent team at ICC tournaments since 2007. They were the loosing finalists in 2007 and in 2011. The Proteas, on the other hand, have always entered a big tournament as one of the favorites but they have always faltered to deceive, or if we were to be case specific, choked to deceive.

With Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara in great form, Sri Lanka has depended on these two champion players to do most of the scoring for them. Dilshan and Sangakkara got their act together against Bangladesh when they both smashed centuries. Sangakkara has gone on a ton making spree after that by adding 3 more centuries, against England, Australia and Scotland. Dilshan hit a 50 against the Aussie's and then scored a ton against the Scots! Apart from these two Thirimanne has also been amongst the runs but he seems to struggle early on with balls just outside his off stump.

Mahela is a big match player and has already bailed Sri Lanka out of a hole once in this World Cup against Afghanistan. Mathews seems to be in good form as well. With the hard hitting Kusal Perera drafted in, in place of the injured Chandimal and Thisara Perera, Sri Lanka now have hard hitting batsmen who can take apart any bowling line up in the death overs as well.

Lasith Malinga has been the fulcrum around which the Sri Lankan bowling has revolved since many years in ODI cricket. His toe crushing yorkers are slowly making a sensational comeback and his full repertoire of slower balls, fast/ slow bouncers, yorkers, away swinging deliveries was on display against the Australians. Kulasekera was his partner in crime when they strangled the strong Indian batting line up and reduced them to titters in the WT20 in Bangladesh. He has largely been out of form in the past year or so but he bowled reasonably well against the Scotland and his experience might be something that the Lankans decide to call upon in the crunch games.

The young fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera looks fast and has decent variations but it remains to be seen if he can be accurate in the high pressure knock out games against quality opposition. Suranga Lakmal should get the nod ahead of Chameera as he has bowled with a lot of heart and fire, albeit without any luck, as fielders have dropped numerous catches off his bowling. Rangana Herath will play a major role on the SCG pitch which is sure to aid the spinners.

Rangana Herath can play a crucial role for the Sri Lankans at the SCG 
but will he be fit enough to play?

The Protea batting has been dependent on two players, Hashim Amla and superman AB De Villiers. A lot depends on the start that Amla gives and his wicket will be the key early on. AB De Villiers has been in irrepressible form and with his hitting abilities not seen previously. De Kock has not had any form behind him and he is struggling for form. Faf Du Plessis was in decent nick but he missed the last game with an injury. Rilee Rossouw has made a couple of attractive half centuries but his struggles against spin bowling in the UAE game were for all to see and Herath will be licking his lips about the prospect of bowling to him.

David Miller and JP Duminy remain threats down the order as they showed against Zimbabwe but they are known to crumble in the face of good spin bowling as India showed us. These two along with Farhaan Behardein will provide the slog over fireworks for South Africa if required.

Dale Steyn, a bowler who is probably the best in the business in test cricket since the last 5-7 years has not had the same impact in the ODI game. He has been below par thus far and the South Africans will surely be worried about him not being able to take wickets upfront. But he remains a champion bowler and the crunch match could just be what he was waiting for to announce himself in this World Cup. Morne Morkel has bowled consistently and with the extra bounce he generates can cause discomfort to the Lankan batsmen.

Kyle Abbot bowled exceedingly well when he was drafted in place of the injured Philander but in a surprising move they recalled Philander again and he has not been at his best. Imran Tahir is known to bowl loose deliveries every over but he has been very steady and precise with his bowling in this edition of the World Cup. He will surely pose a challenge to the Sri Lankan batsmen with his variations.

Key Battles: Sri Lanka vs South Africa

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel vs Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Imran Tahir vs Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews

Lasith Malinga vs Hashim Amla

Rangana Herath vs AB De Villiers

This promises to be a thrilling game of cricket. The biggest challenge that the South African team will face, apart from the SCG pitch and the 11 Lankan Lions off course, is their ability to handle the pressure that comes with knock out matches. They are known to crumble under an iota of stress; they are known to choke when under the pump. The Quarter Finals of 2011, when they succumbed to a spirited New Zealand side will be fresh in their minds as will be the Klusener-Donald run out from the 1999 edition or the D/L gaffe by Shaun Pollock in the 2003 World Cup.

The Sri Lankans on the other hand will be quietly confident about their chances and will be looking to get the job done as efficiently as possible. They are probably the most under rated team in ODI cricket, no one gives them any chance before major tournaments but they always seem to somehow reach the deep end of ICC tournaments. There is something dynamic about them, there seems to be some invisible force that pushes them to fight till the very end. They enjoy each other’s success and play for each other in these big tournaments, they put the pay disputes and the differences with their cricket board behind and are just happy representing their country at the highest level.

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com


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DS said...

Thanks!! This is indeed one of my Best Posts!!

KasunSL said...

Great review friend.Big thanks from Sri Lankan

DS said...

My pleasure Kasun, May SL win tomorrow!