I’m going for our bowlers to spark and put South Africa in the World Cup semi-finals.
I don’t see Sri Lanka having the bowling artillery to keep South Africa’s batsmen in check, although things might get interesting if the Proteas have to bat second, on a Sydney Cricket Ground wicket that could slow up for the side batting second. It’s not going to be easy chasing at the venue and if we are forced to chase then even 200 could be a bit tricky.
After all, we fell over the 200-run mark against Pakistan and lost that pool match badly, and against India we never looked like scoring 200 runs. I have previously voiced my thoughts on this here.
But this is a game in which I think the South African bowlers need to stick up their hands as a collective and come to the party. There are few cities in the world to party better in than Sydney and if we do manage to get to the semi-finals – and I reckon we ought to – there will be some massive celebrations.
It looks for all money as if Quinton de Kock is going to be retained as, firstly AB de Villiers has stated that he doesn’t want to wear the wicketkeeping gloves, and also that Quinny is held in high regard by his teammates and the seniors in the side. I’d have liked to see him get more runs up to now, as he’s just got 7, 7, 12, 1, 0 and 26 from his five innings so far. But, there’s no point in dropping him down the order now and if he’s going to be retained, then it must be as Hashim Amla’s opening partner and let’s have the mindset that whatever Quinny scores will be a bonus for us.
If we win the toss and presumably bat first – as would Sri Lanka – then we should make at least 270, and the pressure will be on the team chasing.
But there are a couple of reasons why I say that with our superior bowling line-up we should win this and make history by being the first South African side at the ICC World Cup to win a match in the knockout phases since we started back in 1992. I reckon our bowlers are better than theirs.
Our batsmen, particularly batting first, shouldn’t be fearful. They have been full of big scores in the last couple of years and have some players at the top of their game, although as I’ve said consistently before, I’d like to see some of the top-order get really big scores and help out AB and Hashim should they struggle. This would be a good time for David Miller and JP Duminy to also show that they have the mindset to go big against a better quality nation than the likes of Zimbabwe, West Indies and some of the Associates.
I was looking at Sri Lanka’s bowling attack and there isn’t a lot to fear. They leaked 331-6 in their opener against New Zealand, Afghanistan got 232 against them, Bangladesh made 240, even England reached 309-6 and then Australia hammered 376-9 before Scotland scored 215. That is a total of 1,703 runs against them at an average of 284 – and of those six teams they played against only New Zealand and Australia can be considered anything remotely like World Cup favourites. So, on that basis, South Africa shouldn’t be concerned facing that attack.
Their biggest batting danger man for me is Mahela Jayawardene and not Sangakkara. The law of averages plays a big part in cricket and the averages reckon Sangakkara is due a failure. Jawayardene is a big game player, he has huge experience and he won’t lose his cool if the wickets start tumbling around him, which I expect is going to be the case.
Sri Lanka also have a couple of injury worries and I think they’ll look to take the pace off the ball and play a few more spinners and vary their bowling attack. They won’t limit themselves to five bowlers to get through the 50 overs and they’ll give themselves options with the ball.
But, providing our quick men are on their game – here I’d bring in Kyle Abbott to replace Vernon Philander – and they hit the right areas, I think they’ll be more than a handful for the Sri Lanka batsmen, who admittedly have been in good form, but our bowlers have the opportunity to show that they too are match-winners in their own right.