South Africa favourites against depleted Sri Lanka side - Match Preview
3rd Match, Group B: Sri Lanka v South Africa at The Oval
3rd June, 10:30 local | 09:30 GMT
Both Sri Lanka and South Africa will hope to begin their 2017 Champions Trophy campaign with a win as they lock horns with each other in the Group B encounter at Kennington Oval on Saturday.
South Africa are coming off a 2-1 series defeat against England but their performance at Lord's where they had the hosts at 20 for six at one stage will give them a lot of confidence heading into the tournament. Despite, having one of the most balanced team, the current members of the side including AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis have never won an ICC tournament which they will be desperate to shrug off this tournament.
The Proteas are also the top ranked team in the 50-over format and have four batsmen - de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, du Plessis and Amla in the top 10 rankings along with top two positions in bowling rankings - Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir as compared to Sri Lanka, who enter the tournament as the seventh ranked team behind Bangladesh and their top batsman in rankings, their skipper Angelo Mathews might not even play the game.
Even though, Sri Lanka came up with a couple of spirited performances against Australia and New Zealand in the warm-up games might help their confidence and will be pleased to see the return of Lasith Malinga, who will spearhead the attack.
Head to Head Record:
There isn't much to look at in the head to head record with Sri Lanka winning 29 out of the 65 games while South Africa emerged victorious on 34 occasions. In the Champions Trophy, South Africa won the encounters in 1998 and 2006. However, Sri Lanka registered their first win over South Africa in the 2009 edition.
South Africa will have a clear psychological advantage when they face Sri Lanka, having recently defeated them 5-0 in the recent most ODI series at home.
Hashim Amla - He has been in prime form scoring two fifties in the three games against England and is coming off from a scintillating Indian Premier League season where he notched two centuries while representing Kings XI Punjab. The more the time he spends in the middle, the better his strike rate goes in the innings as seen with his career highest score knock of 159. He will be a key member to hold the innings with stroke-makers around him hoping for a solid platform.
Lasith Malinga - The team will be desperately hoping for their most experienced campaigner to deliver the goods but it won't be easy for him as he will be playing his first 50-over game after almost 18 months. With fitness cloud surrounding Mathews, Malinga will have to shoulder the responsibility with a hope of repeating his magic at the biggest stage.
South Africa might very well rest their most experienced bowler Dale Steyn considering the form shown by Wayne Parnell at Lord's. David Miller has also passed the fitness test.
1. Hashim Amla, 2. Quinton de Kock (wk), 3. Faf du Plessis, 4. JP Duminy, 5. AB de Villiers (captain), 6. David Miller, 7. Chris Morris, 8. Wayne Parnell, 9. Kagiso Rabada, 10. Imran Tahir, 11. Andile Phehlukwayo / Morne Morkel
Upul Tharanga is all likely to lead the team in the possible absence of Angelo Mathews.
1. Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 2. Upul Tharanga (captain), 3. Kusal Mendis, 4. Dinesh Chandimal, 5. Asela Gunaratne, 6. Chamara Kapugedara, 7. Thisara Perera, 8. Seekkuge Prasanna / Kusal Perera, 9. Nuwan Kulasekara, 10. Lakshan Sandakan, 11. Lasith Malinga
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