Cricket can be cruel game, especially when only one out of two champion cricketers like A.B.DeVillers and Kumar Sangakkara can go through to the next round. South Africa’s talent and Sri Lanka’s experience will collide at Sydney. Sydney is where DeVillers scored 60 balls 160 earlier in the group stage and Sangakkara also scored a magnificent century against Australia chasing 376 (but in a lost cause).
If it is six a side or seven a side game, both Sri Lanka and South Africa would have been playing in the finals. They both have six to seven fantastic match winning players, but cricket gets played between eleven players. This is where things become more dicey for both of them. Both sides are struggling with below average support cast. South Africa went through trouble at the before the tournament when Kallis – G.Smith resigned and they could not found any all rounder to replace Kallis. Sri Lanka went through hell during the World cup, when one after another 4 of them starting players got injured. One of those injured Sri Lankan – Rangana Herath’s fitness might become the decision maker.
Sri Lanka would love to play with 3 spinners at Sydney. T.Dilshan and leggie Prasanna will play but the doubt remains over Herath – Senanayake. Senanayake is not effective and Herath is injured (50-50). If Herath plays, it will give upper hand to Sri Lanka, as then they will have balance bowling attack of 3 spinners, Malinga’s pace, Mathews’s accuracy and T.Perera’s ability to break partnerships. S.Africa’s batting has lot of talent but they are inconsistent. S.Africa lacks the experience of Kallis to guide them through for fifty overs. S.Africa has lot of flamboyance but if they are chasing, Sri Lanka can question their temperament.
S.Africa has excellent bowling side. Imran Tahir took fifer at the very same ground. Plus they have world class Steyn’s pace, followed up with accuracy of Philander and bounce of Morkel. S.Africa’s problem is their fifth bowler. They tried to hide the problem of fifth bowler by having Duminy and DeVillers bowled against Pakistan early in the game and it didn’t work. S.Africa will be facing three most experienced batsmen in the world: Dilshan, Sangakkara and Jayawardene. Sri Lankan top order has scored plenty of runs in this world cup and with not much pace and bounce at Sydney, S.African pacers are not going to trouble them the most. Sri Lanka has an issue of lower order batting though. There is hardly anyone to support Mathews in last 15 overs against pace of Steyn. If the target is below 320, Sri Lanka knows how to chase it.
South Africa has an issue of choking as well in critical matches. De Villers and Steyn are the key for S.Africa, if they perform well, they win. India and Pakistan has already defeated S.Africa in group stage, will third subcontinent team – Sri Lanka can do the same? Its Talent vs Experience at Sydney and mind says S.Africa but heart says Sri Lankan Lions will be too tough to handle. (If) Herath in – Sri Lanka win !!!