Sudden death games begin:
Lankans can crop the Proteas
Self belief is important:
As expected, the Sri Lankan cricketers led admirably by Captain
Courageous Angelo Davis Mathews, obliged and entered the quarterfinals
of the 2015 World Cup co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews
They are now training hard and are being psyched to take on the
mighty South Africans head on at the Sydney Cricket Ground under lights
in a sudden death game on Wednesday, confident that they can crop the
Proteas and keep moving on.
With Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara announcing their
retirements after this World Cup, they will be keen to win against the
South Africans, play the semifinals and the final and go out in a blaze
of glory. That will be the wish of every Sri Lankan.
Hard and rocky road
On the hard and rocky road to the quarters, the gutty Lankan
cricketers lost the opening game to New Zealand and then got on to the
Winning Street pushing aside Afghanistan, Bangladesh and England and
then having a little hiccup losing to Australia before stuffing
Before the tournament was called ‘play’, the Lankans were faced with
injury problems. They had to call for replacements as the tournament
unspooled and generally the team was in a cricketing land of
Lankans enter last eight
But like the courageous cricketers that they are, they surmounted the
injury problems and that they reached the quarterfinals is great credit.
In entering the last eight, the Sri Lankan cricketers played two
games that they would like to remember and that was against England and
When a team batting first makes a score of over 300, it is not an
easy ask to achieve. England and Australia made scores of well over 300.
Against England when Sri Lanka began the chase there were many doubters.
Australia gallop to massive score
But after a solid star from openers Lahiru Thirimanne and
Tillekeratne Dilshan who put on 100 and showed the way, Kumar Sangakkara
and Thirimanne took it from there and took the team to a great victory
with Thirimanne 143 and Sangakkara 117 remaining unbeaten to chalk up a
9-wicket victory in Wellington.
The big hiting South African captain A.B.de Villiers
Then in a confrontation with Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground,
Australia galloped to a massive score of 376 for 9. Victory for
Australia was a foregone conclusion because getting anywhere near that
score was impossible considering the strong Aussie pace attack.
But the never say die Lankans had the Australians in a spot of bother
the admirable and determined manner in which they were boldly chasing
that elusive victory target.
Dilshan 62, Sangakkara another well carved out 104, Mathews 35 and
Dinesh Chandimal an explosive unbeaten 52 retired hurt shook the Aussie
cricket foundation going well over the 300-run mark and falling short by
just 64 runs and proving that the Aussie pace guns of Mitchell Starc and
Mitch Johnson could be made to look ordinary.
Dilshan’s batting blitz
Dilshan in his batting blitz hit Johnson for 6 fours in six balls
which was a stunning effort. The faster that Johnson bowled the harder
Dilshan hit him with good cricket shots to send the white ball
screeching to the four boundary. It was as good as hitting six sixes in
six balls. He earned loud applause from the crowd for this heroic
And now all these victories and individual brilliant efforts be
history and forgotten as the Lankan cricketers face the mighty South
Africans who are one of the favourites to win the World Cup 2015 at the
SCG in the first quarterfinal.
The Lankans have played on the SCG and are aware that the wicket is
favourable to batsmen.
Bowlers have had to work hard for wickets. So it will be seen that
batting first and posting a score of well over 300 and putting the side
chasing under pressure and winning is possible.
Toss in Mathews favour
Skipper Angelo Mathews has had luck with the coin turning more in his
favour. He will be looking to win the all-important toss against South
Africa and give his side first hit and that his batsmen will hoist a big
In this aspect batters of the class of Lahiru Thirimanne,
Tillekeratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo
Mathews, Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera must contribute lavishly. While
Thirimanne, Dilshan, Sangakkara and Mathews have been contributing, it
is the form of Jayawardene that must be worrying. But Jayawardene is the
man for the big occasion and he will come good.
Encouraging and inspiring
As for the bowlers, the encouraging and inspiring factor has been the
return to form of Lasith Malinga at the right time. But he alone can’t
perform. The other bowlers who play must get into the wicket taking act.
With the SCG wicket likely to be spin friendly, the tour selectors will
only after a look at the wicket and conditions decide to go pace for
spin heavy. The spinners have no wickets to show.
As for the South Africans, they have a tendency to choke on the big
occasion. They have batsmen in Hashim Amla, Faa du Plessis, skipper
Abraham de Villiers, J.P. Duminy and Rilee Rossouw to pile on the runs.
In bowling they will look to the fastest bowler in the tournament Dale
Steyn to breach the defence of the frontline Sri Lankan batsmen. But in
the two games that South Africa chased they capitulated to India and