Struggling-Proteas an easy target
Something has gone terribly wrong for South Africa somewhere along the line, the question is where? Easily the biggest-underachievers of the 2019 World Cup so far, the Proteas have two more games to restore some pride before the semi-finals get underway. With three games left in their group stage fixture, Sri Lanka will be in contention with both Bangladesh and Pakistan to replace England in the top four if they were to beat South Africa tomorrow at Chester-le-Street. South Africa isn’t a team that is usually regarded as a ‘stepping stone’, but in this case they’ve shot themselves in the foot and have quickly become a rather-large one.
After Sri Lanka produced perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament so far against the hosting nation, this game has danger written all over it for a struggling-South Africa. Despite coming under heavy scrutiny about their under-performing middle-order, Sri Lanka’s loyalty prevailed as the out-of-sorts Angelo Mathews fought hard to grind himself out of a batting slump with a pivotal 85 not out. Kusal Mendis is also starting to find form after a sluggish-start to the tournament left him somewhat-vulnerable on the selection table, the 24-year-old delivered a composed-46 against England. 21-year-old Avishka Fernando was a very-handy inclusion at No. 3 as well, scoring a free-flowing 49 off just 39 balls. South Africa’s inability to make an early breakthrough against Pakistan left them playing catch-up for the remainder of the game, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Karunaratne and Kusal Perera replicate Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq’s performance at the top. Proteas-quick Kagiso Rabada has only taken 2 wickets in his last three matches, he’s been far from his lethal-best of recent.
Lasith Malinga wound back the clock against England at Headingley with a scintillating-spell of fast bowling to get Sri Lanka over the line and keep their World Cup dreams alive. The Sri Lankan veteran may not be in the prime of his career anymore, but Malinga has mastered numerous variations which proved to hot to handle for England. Finishing with figures of 4/43 and being awarded player of the match, Malinga well & truly silenced his critics. With the lively-Isuru Udana bowling at the other end, this Sri Lankan attack doesn’t lack X factor whatsoever. There’s a spotlight on South Africa coming into this match, particularly their batting which has been sub-standard. The Proteas might be ready to pull the plug on Aiden Markram, an outstanding prospect in test cricket, but has looked way out of his depth in this year’s World Cup. They’ve been crying out for a match-winning knock from star wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, but it just hasn’t eventuated. In the twilight of his career, Hashim Amla has also struggled to put runs on the board which has added to South Africa’s 2019 World Cup-woes.
UPDATED: David Miller has supposedly been ruled out of this match due to an injury, meaning Aiden Markram is likely to hold his spot in the side despite poor-form and JP Duminy is almost a certainty to come back into South Africa’s XI. A fever to Sri Lankan seamer Nuwan Pradeep could also see him sidelined in this upcoming game at Chester-le-Street.
Top 5 fantasy picks – South Africa
- Imran Tahir
- Faf du Plessis
- Kagiso Rabada
- Rassie van der Dussen
- Quinton de Kock
Wildcard pick – JP Duminy
Top 5 fantasy picks – Sri Lanka
- Lasith Malinga
- Dimuth Karunaratne
- Dhananjaya de Silva
- Isuru Udana
- Avishka Fernando
Wildcard pick – Kusal Mendis
Predicted Team XI’s
South Africa (possible) – 1. Hashim Amla 2. Quinton de Kock (wk) 3. Faf du Plessis (c) 4. Aiden Markram 5. Rassie van der Dussen 6. JP Duminy 7. Andile Phehlukwayo 8. Chris Morris 9. Kagiso Rabada 10. Lungi Ngidi 11. Imran Tahir.
Sri Lanka (possible) – 1. Dimuth Karunaratne (c) 2. Kusal Perera (wk) 3. Avishka Fernando 4. Kusal Mendis 5. Angelo Mathews 6. Jeevan Mendis/Lahiru Thirimanne 7. Dhananjaya de Silva 8. Thisara Perera 9. Isuru Udana 10. Lasith Malinga 11. Nuwan Pradeep/Suranga Lakmal.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.