Sri Lanka v South Africa: ABD confident ahead of clash

AB de Villiers is confident South Africa can live up to its No. 1 ranking with victory over Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy.

South Africa celebrate against England   -  Getty Images

South Africa may have lost its One-Day International (ODI) series to England prior to the ICC Champions Trophy, but AB de Villiers insists there are still reasons to be confident ahead of its tournament opener against Sri Lanka.

South Africa was beaten in the first two matches of the series with England but was able to gain a measure of revenge at Lord's in the final encounter, dismissing its host for 153. A half-century from Hashim Amla helped lay the foundation for a seven-wicket win, and De Villiers believes his side is well-placed for the Champions Trophy.

"We're still ranked the No. 1 team in the world going into the tournament, so there's reasons for us to be confident," he said. "But we're still humble at the same time and know that we have to work hard and take it one step at a time to win this."

It faces a Sri Lanka side struggling for confidence after warm-up defeats to Australia, New Zealand and Scotland, and it is likely to be without skipper Angelo Matthews at The Oval.

KEY PLAYERS

South Africa is blessed with star batsmen in the shape of Amla, De Villiers and Quinton de Kock, but the return of leg-spinner Imran Tahir from a hamstring injury could be crucial to its bowling line-up.

With Mathews expected to miss out with a calf injury the attention will turn to Upul Tharanga to lead the side upon the return of Lasith Malinga - the swing bowler having not played ODI cricket since 2015.

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:

Sri Lanka: Niroshan Dickwella, Upul Tharanga (captain), Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Chamara Kapugedara, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga

South Africa: Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (captain), JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir

LAST ODI MEETING:

South Africa has won 34 of its 65 ODI matches against Sri Lanka, including in its most recent meeting in February. Centuries from De Kock (109) and Amla (154) laid a solid foundation as South Africa amassed a massive 384 for 6 in Centurion.

In reply, Sri Lanka came up 88 runs short, Asela Gunaratne's unbeaten 114 not enough to secure a win.

QUOTES:

"I would love to get my hands on it [the trophy]. It feels good in my hands. I would love to take that home one day." - De Villiers has got his sights set on silverware.

"He [Malinga] has been our leading bowler for many years and we missed him. He is very keen to return to ODI cricket and we are looking forward to him performing again." - Mathews relishing the return of Malinga.

OPTA STATS:

- South Africa have won their last seven ODIs against Sri Lanka, four of those coming when batting first (all by at least 40 runs) and three when chasing (all by at least 7 wickets).
- This will be the fourth time these sides have met in the Champions Trophy, all three games have been won by the side batting first with South Africa winning the first two games but Sri Lanka the most recent encounter.
- Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers have both hit 24 ODI centuries in their careers, more than anyone else for South Africa, only five players from any country have managed more tons than this.
- Lasith Malinga has 22 wickets in the Champions Trophy, only two bowlers have taken more in the competition (Kyle Mills 28, Muttiah Muralitharan 24).
- Wayne Parnell is six wickets shy of reaching 100 ODI scalps and a six-wicket haul would signify career best figures, his current best 5-48.

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