South Africa take on Sri Lanka in the first ICC Cricket World Cup quarter-final on Wednesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The Sri Lankans have been to the last two World Cup finals and won the title in 1996. The South Africans have never won a World Cup knockout match. Who will reign supreme?
Cricket’s most prolific batsmen AB De Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara will play it out for the number one batting spot in the Reliance ICC Player Rankings for ODI Batsmen, when the two sides commence hostilities in Sydney. De Villiers will go into the encounter leading the Sri Lankan by 38 ratings points. The Proteas should have the advantage having lost just once in four World Cup clashes to the island nation. South Africa has some of the best batsmen and bowlers in world cricket, but the knockouts seem to trouble the South Africans.
The Proteas rely greatly on Hashim Amla and De Villiers, as two of the most influential one-day batsmen in history, to bolster their team at crucial stages. In the Sri Lankan corner you have Sangakkara who is the man of the tournament thus far, and Tillakaratne Dilshan who is batting remarkably well. In the bowling department Russell Domingo’s side has the has the brilliant Dale Steyn. On the other side the Lankans possess the dangerous Lasith Malinga; arguably the best death bowler on the planet.
Should Sri Lanka lose on Wednesday, it will mean the end of Mahlea Jayawardene’s international career, and the end of Sangakkara’s ODI career. They are not just two outstanding cricketers, but contributed greatly to Sri Lankan success over the last decade-and-a-half. It promises to be a classic showdown between two top sides. South Africa’s strength undoubtedly lies in setting a target but by the same token the Lankan Lions love chasing. Sri Lanka have a better head-to-head record against the South Africans since 1992 but have not beaten the African side at the World Cup since 1992.