Cricket World Cup 2019: Sri Lanka bank on scintillating Malinga to tackle demoralised Proteas

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 16:24 27/06/2019
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The last fixture of round seven of the Cricket World Cup will feature two sides that started the tournament on a similar note but went on to script different fortunes.

While South Africa continued their sorry run with a defeat to Pakistan, the Lankans shocked hosts England and revived their campaign with a crucial win.

The Proteas hence play for pride after being eliminated from the World Cup while Dimuth Karunaratne’s men are expected to go hard at the two points at stake.

A bright day is expected at Chester-le-Street, with rain staying away. We take a look at the talking points ahead of the tie that could support or harm Sri Lanka’s chance at a spot in the semis.

Toe-crushers over six packs

Lasith Malinga has been at the end of criticism for sporting a relatively huge tummy in a picture that has gone viral over social media. But the pacer showed against England that substance matters more than a six-pack ab.

The veteran claimed a four-fer to dismantle England’s top order and later returned later to trouble the tail. The 35-year-old produced one of the best bowling performances of the tournament, given the circumstances.

Come Friday and Malinga will return to torment batsmen with his famous toe-crushing yorkers. The South African batsmen have failed to click in the World Cup and the pacer will be relishing the prospect of adding a few more World Cup wickets under his belt.

Amid criticism regarding his fitness, Malinga has returned to provide the Lankans that glimmer of hope they need to take off and turnaround their World Cup campaign.

Proteas look to salvage pride

South Africa v Bangladesh - ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

Faf du Plessis’ men have had a tournament to forget, failing to win a single game other than the one over bottom-placed Afghanistan. A series of woeful performances saw them out of contention for a top-four spot by the end of round six.

The Proteas will hence play for pride when they take the field at Durham. The batting has been insipid; bowling has been toothless and fielding poor. While there is no overnight solution for the problems South Africa are facing, they could start well with a win over the Lankans.

A strong finish in the World Cup could slightly affect their evaluation of the tournament and provide positive pointers in the rebuilding phase. Hence, the Proteas will be eager to win their remaining games and take something away from the World Cup.

A long way from March

Contrary to their form in the World Cup, South Africa were heavily dominant in the ODI series between the two sides in March. The Proteas recorded a 5-0 white-wash in the ODI series before winning the T20 series 2-0.

However, it seems like we have a come a long way since March and the 1996 World Cup champions now start as favourites. Sri Lanka will hence have revenge on their minds apart from the primary incentive to enter the top-four.

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