Malinga in spotlight as Sri Lanka prepares for Proteas challenge

The islanders, who turned around their campaign in the tournament after stunning England in Leeds last week, have a good chance against a beleaguered South Africa side, which is already out of the knockout race.

Seasoned pacer Lasith Malinga claimed four wickets to help Sri Lanka defend a modest target against England last week.   -  Getty Images

 

Placed seventh with six points in the kitty, a win against the Proteas would take Sri Lanka up to the fifth spot, trailing close behind England, and tighten the race for the semifinals.

The islanders, who turned around their campaign in the tournament after stunning England in Leeds last week, have a good chance against a beleaguered South Africa side, which is already out of the knockout race.

But Sri Lanka’s batting remains a concern. Angelo Mathews struck form in its last outing, but it is time for the others to step up. Seasoned pacer Lasith Malinga — who scalped four wickets — and off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva helped Sri Lanka defend a relatively modest target (232) against England.

READ| Malinga becomes second Sri Lankan to pick 50 wickets in World Cup

Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha admitted that there have been discussions with the players on their batting form.

 

“That is what we have discussed even before the England game. They all have done this before, especially someone like Mathews, a world-class player, and he showed a lot of mental resilience in that innings,” said Hathurusingha in the pre-match press conference.

This has been South Africa’s worst-ever World Cup campaign. It failed to go past the first round for the second time since 1992; Faf du Plessis’ side will play for pride against the Lankans.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis in action against Pakistan.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

With a bright day expected, Chester-le-Street gears up for its World Cup debut hoping for a run feast. The last match on this ground — between England and Australia a year ago — was a high-scoring affair. The Englishmen chased down a 311-run target in just 45 overs.