The Cricket World Cup continues in the first round of group games and South Africa and Sri Lanka make their bow at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Saturday (09:30). We’ve taken a look and given two tips for your attention.
South Africa (4/9) are the perennial under-achievers in this competition, having never been past the semi-finals in the history of the event.
The Proteas have some wonderfully gifted players, however and can be backed at 8/1 to win the tournament outright.
Captain Temba Bavuma and his side had a superb warm up series for this tournament, coming from two down against the mighty Australia, to win the series 3-2. Those last three victories all contained scores of 300+, with a massive 416 scored in Centurion.
Up first, they face a really tricky looking tie against Sri Lanka (17/10), who had to face a qualification tournament just to reach India.
The Lions responded magnificently to such a challenge, winning all eight games and ensured the likes of Zimbabwe and the West Indies failed to reach the finals.
Dasun Shanaka’s side are seen as one of the outsiders for this tournament at 40/1 but they kept up that good form in the Asia Cup, reaching the final before eventually losing to India.
Chris Silverwood’s outfit have shown vulnerability at times though, none more so than in that very final, when they were skittled by an inspired Mohammed Siraj for 50!
An early victory here for either side would stamp down a marker on this six week long gruelling event and gather some early momentum.
The Proteas are missing pace king Anrich Nortje, as well as fast bowler Sisanda Magala, who have been replaced by Kagiso Rabada and 23-year-old Gerald Coetzee.
South Africa (from): Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.
The Lions are also missing two of their main pacemen in Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Madushanka but perhaps the biggest loss is world class leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
Sri Lanka (from): Dasun Shanaka (c), Kusal Mendis (vc), Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dushan Hemantha, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara, Dilshan Madushanka
Heinrich Klaasen top SA run scorer – 11/2
I was shocked to see perhaps the form ODI player in world cricket right now, as big as 11/2 in the betting.
The 32-year-old wicketkeeper batter was simply stunning in Centurion, smashing 174 from just 83 balls, as South Africa demolished Australia.
Klaasen hit a whopping 13 sixes in that innings and averages over 59, in 2023, in this format.
Maheesh Theekshana top SL wicket taker – 11/4
The loss of Hasaranga is huge for Sri Lanka but what an able deputy they have in Maheesh Theekshana.
At just 23-years-old the right-arm mystery spinner has catapulted himself into all three formats of the game for the Lions and has shone in particular in the 50-over setup.
In just 27 matches the off-break bowler has captured 44 wickets at a little over 23, with four 4-wicket innings. He will be a real threat on the dust bowl of Delhi.