Let the business begin : SA v SL CWC15 1st Quarter Final
A look at the schedule of the Cricket World Cup 2015 and we marked the date 18th March as the day on which potential cracker of the games would begin.
It is the business end of the tournament with the quarter finals lined up for the next week. Three good games for any of the eight qualified teams could be with the CWC 15 winners tag. Such is the format of the tournament.
With arduous group stages coming to an end we have our first quarter final on the 18th March. South Africa, second placed team in group B, will face of with Sri Lanka, who is placed at number three in group A.
A look at the team ranking of Sri Lanka would give a different picture than the reality. The quality of cricket Lankans have played deserved a place better than third in the group. But unfortunately for them they were stuck in a group which boasted the co hosts New Zealand and Australia.
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Batsmen have been the promulgator for Lankans with Kumar Sangakara and Tilakaratne Dilshan being the gladiators of the side. Sangakara, with the tournament runs 496, has scored four consecutive centuries in this tournament. First one to do so in the ODIs let alone the world cup. His batting beauty is on the rise with his age. At the age of 37 he is playing his best cricket in this format, a format he is planning to decamp from.
Batting has been the strong point in this Lankan line up with each of the top four Dilshan, Thirimanne, Sangakkara and Jayawardena having good run with the bat. However, they will be concerned about the lower middle order. Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera being the only hitters who could garner those extra runs to cushion the bowlers.
Dinesh Chandimal showed glimpses of what he can do lower down the order with his 52 off 24 balls before he was retired hurt. Unfortunately for the Lankans Chandimal is out of the tournament.
The bowling department has been lacklustre though. Malinga has looked half baked in the campaign. Lankans will be apprehensive of their other bowling options especially with the spinners not able to control the game in the middle overs. An assuring performance by their veteran Nuwan Kulasekara in the game against Scotland would have given them some options to manoeuvre with. He took 3 wickets in the seven overs he bowled giving away 20 runs as he looked in his usual self swinging the ball inwards and outwards.
South Africa has been schizophrenic in their performance. With their preference of batting first decipherable (as they lost both their matches while chasing) they might face a stern test in the knockouts.
Past records in the knockouts are not very encouraging for this self-proclaimed best team in the tournament. Having lost five of the five knockouts played in the world cup they have lot to prove in the sixth one when they play Lankans on 18th March.
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Take a look at the stages of elimination of South African team in the world cup since 1992 when they first played :
1992: Semi-finals – vs England
1996: Quarter-finals – vs West Indies
1999: Semi-finals – vs Australia
2003: First round
2007: Semi-finals – vs Australia
2011: Quarter-finals – vs New Zealand
The primary concern for the Proteas is the team balance with the lack of an all rounder certainly being felt. AB Devilliers and JP Duminy aggregating ten overs between them could be the soft point in their bowling against a strong batting line up.
Apart from the fifth bowler, opening batsman Quinton De Kock has been inefficacious. Scores of 26-0-1-12-1-7 is not what a team expects from an opening batsman. However, AB Devilliers has chosen to back the young talent in the games to come.
Batting will again depend on flamboyant AB Devilliers and steadfast Hashim Amla. Other batsmen will look to bat around these two. It will be interesting to watch the temperament of other batsmen if these two batsmen get out early.
South Africa would like to shed the chokers tag and the world cup quarter finals will be the perfect to start that.
Sri Lanka played Kushal Janith Perera at number six and preferred to go with an extra bowler at the cost of Upul Tharanga in the game against Scotland. Sri Lanka should field the same combination for the Quarter finals as Upul Tharanga at number seven is futile. Good news for them is that their captain, Angelo Mathews, and veteran left arm spinner Rangana Herath will be available for selection after the injury scare. Herath is likely to replace Seekuge Prasanna in the XI.
Sri Lanka (probable) : 1. Lahiru Thirimanne 2. Tilakratne Dilshan 3. Kumar Sangakkara 4. Mahela Jaywardena 5. Angelo Mathews 6. Kushal Janith Perera 7. Thisara Perera 8. Nuwan Kulasekara 9. Rangana Herath 10. Lasith Malinga 11. Dushmantha Chameera
South Africa breathed a sigh of relief as their number seven Farhan Behardien performed aptly in their last group match against UAE as he scored 64 off 31 balls. He propelled the score towards the 340 mark when it seemed they could manage around 310. They expected to go in unchanged for the crucial encounter.
South Africa (probable) : 1. Quinton De Kock 2. Hashim Amla 3. Faf Du Plessis 4. AB Devilliers 5. David Miller 6. JP Duminy 7. Farhan Behardien 8. Dale Steyn 9. Vernon Philander 10. Morne Morkel 11. Imran Tahir
The Pitch :
First quarter final is to be played at Sydney Cricket Ground which is expected to be drier than normal. So we could expect the spinners to come into play.
Three matches have been played at this venue in this tournament which saw scores of 408-376-111. It could be safely assumed that it has been a high scoring ground and with batting prowess that both the teams possess we can expect another high scoring clash albeit the high scores could be chased down unlike the previous encounters on this ground.
The Odds :
South Africa is 1.44 to win the game and given the quality of cricket Sri Lanka has played the gulf is a bit too much to digest. This could easily be the most skewed price in the recent times. We are backing Sri Lanka huge but only to lay afterwards. The case even stronger if Sri Lanka bats first and in the second innings bring spinners into play.
South Africa batting will be tested if AB Devilliers and Amla fail to deliver and their bowling too is one bowler short which will be aggregated by AB Devilliers and JP Duminy. Keeping all this in mind there is enough room for Sri Lanka to sneak into the match.