|South Africa vs. Sri Lanka||Oval, London||15:00 IST||B|
Preview- South Africa vs. Sri Lanka, ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Group B
South Africa (squad): Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock(w), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers(c), Jean-Paul Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel
Sri Lanka (squad): Upul Tharanga(c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal(w), Asela Gunaratne, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan, Chamara Kapugedera, Niroshan Dickwella
ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Group B opening clash between Proteas and the Lankans today is in South Africa’s favor all in all. South Africa have won a staggering 7 games back to back between the two sides, and when Sri Lankans were hammered 5-0 by the South Africans this year. Since then they have shown few signs of progress.
A drawn series back home against Bangladesh in March and April and a defeat to Scotland in a warm-up match don’t help much to calm down the atmosphere at the Lankan camp. Since Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene stepped down, Sri Lanka has won just 13 of their 34 ODIs, out of the thirteen won four of those win have come against teams like Ireland and Zimbabwe.
Sri Lanka has won none of their bilateral series against the top 8 teams recently. But in big tournaments like these, funny things can happen. In the Champions Trophy, every game is a knockout affair, and South Africa‘s record is well known in pressure games like these. It is something they are desperate to change, and which they have practiced – even after taking 3-0 leads in series against Australia and Sri Lanka last recently, they didn’t take the foot off the gas and made sure they gave their absolute best in each and every game in the series.
But doing the same thing at home and in a big tournament like ICC Champions trophy are not the same things, so this is the time for the Proteas to show they mean business this time around. 5-0 whitewashes and 12-match winning streaks doesn’t mean a thing if they lose the opening match of this year’s ICC Champions Trophy.
Batsman-friendly conditions are to be expected in Oval, London due to overnight drizzle. Captain Angelo Matthews will take a fitness test before the match and the prospects don’t look great. So Upul Tharanga is expected to lead Sri Lanka. Despite saying that spin could be South Africa‘s weakness, the Lankans haven’t ruled out attacking with two spinners. David Miller and Imran Tahir passed their fitness tests and will take their place in the side. AB de Villiers has hinted at playing with his most threatening bowling attack, with the likes of Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell.
So the Opening match between the Proteas and the Lankans looks like a straightforward affair. South Africa may have been the stronger side in terms of form recently but with their history and the pressure and the tournament Sri Lanka may surprise them in the group B opener of ICC Champions trophy 2017