Placed third and fourth respectively, in the Group of Death, South Africa and Sri Lanka will clash against each other in a decisive encounter in Sharjah on Saturday. The loser will still mathematically be in the race for the semis, but the dynamics of Group 1 is such that defeat on Saturday could spell disaster for the side that comes up short.
The two sides will enter the contest on the back of contrasting results, as while South Africa trumped West Indies in their previous encounter, the Lankans were trounced by a dominant Aussie side.
With the stakes being incredibly high, both sides will have all to play for.
Head to Head
Played 16 | South Africa 11 | Sri Lanka 5
Last 5 matches
South Africa 5 | Sri Lanka 0
Sri Lanka and South Africa will clash at Sharjah and, well, the venue has been volatile to say the least. So far in the Super 12 stage, Sharjah has overseen 4 matches, and the totals have been up and down. Bangladesh and Afghanistan managed to post 170+ totals against Sri Lanka and Scotland respectively, but the last two games at this venue have seen first-innings scores of 142 and 134. Considering the wicket for the WI vs BAN game was dead slow, it’s fair to say we can expect a similar pitch for Saturday’s encounter.
Both sides have a good mix of seamers and spinners, and so far in this World Cup (Super 12 stage), the Sharjah wicket has been equally conducive for both types of bowlers. Pacers have accounted for 51% of the wickets, while spinners are just behind at 49%. And both have conceded at 7.5 runs an over. It is a statistic neither side will mind, for both have world class seamers and spinners.
The team we've picked has a good mix of world-class batters and bowlers. But remember, while you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your team from Cricket.com’s Fantasy Research Centre. You can use this tool to build your team with the help of algorithms. Then, based on your preferences, the platform will guide you through creating the ideal fantasy XI.
Charith Asalanka has been a revelation since returning to the starting XI, and the southpaw has top-scored for Sri Lanka in each of the last two matches. In the Lankans’ first Super 12 encounter against Bangladesh in Sharjah, it was Asalanka who was the game-changer, scoring an unbeaten 80. He will, without a doubt, be SL’s key man come Saturday. We suggest you make him the captain.
Our Criclytics Player Projections predict Asalanka to score between 34-52 runs.
Dwaine Pretorius grabbed a sensational three-wicket haul against the Windies in the Proteas’ previous game, and his cutters will prove to be a menace in Sharjah. Needless to say, Pretorius is also capable of contributing plenty with the bat, and incidentally, his highest T20I score of 77* came against the Lankans in 2019.
Our Criclytics Player Projections predict Pretorius to take 2-3 wickets and score 13-19 runs.
Maheesh Theekshana did not fire against Australia, but the young mystery spinner will be a handful on the spin-friendly Sharjah wicket. In the only encounter he played at the venue in Round 1, Theekshana returned figures of 2/7. With the Proteas batter also susceptible against spin, the 21-year-old could very well wreak havoc.
Our Criclytics Player Projections predict Theekshana to take 2-3 wickets.
Aiden Markram has been in sensational form of late, and he is currently South Africa’s top-scorer in this World Cup. The right-hander drove the Proteas to victory in their last encounter versus the Windies, striking a remarkable 25-ball fifty, and in T20Is, he is in the form of his life. How the Proteas fare on Saturday will depend a lot on this gifted 27-year-old.
Our Criclytics Player Projections predict Markram to score between 26-38 runs.
Player match-up to watch out for
Kusal Perera has struck at over 170 against the Proteas’ premier seamer, Kagiso Rabada, and has been dismissed just once. It would certainly be a key match-up in the game, given a good start will be imperative for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka: Kusal Perera (wk), Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Avishka Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Maheesh Theekshana
South Africa: Quinton de Kock / Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma (c), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi