The Riverside Ground in Durham hosts match 35 of the World Cup (WC) when Sri Lanka and South Africa square off.
What was four wins from their last four matches to make the semis is now three from three for Sri Lanka, after causing the upset of the tournament to date when knocking over England by 20 runs.
What was even more impressive about that victory was the team was 2/3 inside three overs with both openers dismissed. Thankfully for the ‘Lions’, Angelo Mathews found form and improved his 2019 average of 2.50 (four scores under ten) to 23.75.
What a huge hole Lasith Malinga will leave when he retires at the end of this tourney – a true cricketing great of the 21st century! It should be noted, however, that in the last five matches Malinga has taken collected wickets or more (he took 4/43 last match), he has followed it up no more than one in the next match.
It’s all about pride for South Africa in their penultimate match, having accumulated just three points from their opening seven games, which makes the current team the worst ever ‘Proteas’ squad at a WC in terms of results.
With Hashim Amla still struggling, Aiden Markram all at sea against spin (highest ever ODI score of just 67), David Miller suffering a hamstring injury, and Dale Steyn never making it onto the field, it doesn’t offer good reading for SA fans.
Lineup changes are likely expected. Could Markram be moved to open (averaging 40.75 in that role) to try and get his eye in while the quicks are bowling? Then move Amla to five, and go with JP Duminy or Dwaine Pretorius to round out the top six?
The Proteas can at least take heart that they have won 16 of the last 18 matches against Sri Lanka, and six of the last seven at neutral venues.
SA vs SL – Players to watch out for
Isuru Udana (Sri Lanka) excels when batting against South Africa – averaging 55.00. Against the six other opponents he has faced, his best average is just 15.00.
Rassie van der Dussen (South Africa) has had 13 ODI innings with the bat and only once failed to reach double figures. That innings was in March this year against Sri Lanka.
The team batting second at the Riverside Ground has won ten of 15 ODI matches. Lungisani Ngidi’s bowling average against Sri Lanka (18.78) is his second best against any opponent.
Sri Lanka are 2-0 at the Riverside Ground, while South Africa have never played here. Dhananjaya de Silva’s bowling average against South Africa (37.50) is his worst against any opponent.