When South Africa and Sri Lanka take the field tomorrow at SCG, you can expect two Goliaths going head-on in a battle whose outcome no one can accurately predict.
Another reason why the winner of this match is difficult to forecast is because the last 16 matches between the two teams have ended with both winning 8 games each.
These stats confirm that cricket, indeed, is an unpredictable sport.
Where the outcome of other quarter-final ties can be foreseen, the bout between South Africa and Sri Lanka is sure to break millions of hearts with one team being ousted from the competition.
This match will also see AB de Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara battling for the coveted No.1 spot in the ICC Player Rankings for ODI Batsmen. In this tournament, Sangakkara is the leading run scorer with 496 runs. De Villiers, on the other hand, is third with 417 runs.
Former West Indies captain Brian Lara said, “South Africa vs. Sri Lanka is maybe the best quarter final game we could see and I’m looking forward to that. I will be there.”
And this is highly likely.
Both South Africa and Sri Lanka enter this match with confident wins in their respective last group match over UAE and Scotland, respectively.
When it comes to deciding the winner of this match, you have to be very brave to place a bet on South Africa considering their history in the later stage of the World Cup tournaments. Sri Lanka, though are one-time winners (1996) and 2011 ICC World Cup finalists.
The pitch at SCG is ideal for spin and it is no secret that the team from Asia would be hoping that their ace spinner Rangana Herath is fit for this match. If reports are anything to go by, the left-arm spinner is likely to miss the clash due to a finger injury. The Proteas will be relying on their first pick right-arm leg spinner Imran Tahir.
In the World Cups, both teams have met on 4 occasions prior to this bout. South Africa holds a slight edge over their Asian adversary with 2-1 lead, while the match played during the 2003 edition ended in a tie.
Sri Lankan bowlers would be keen to demolish the South African batting line-up including the in-form AB de Villiers. The Proteas, too, will have their eyes set on the record-breaking Kumar Sangakkara, in the process preventing him from scoring his fifth consecutive ODI century.
With players like Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, to name a few, competing against Lasith Malinga, Dilshan and Angelo Mathews and others, the match is too tough to call.
Nevertheless, South Africa would aim at getting rid of the ‘chokers’ tag and Sri Lanka would love to make it to another semi-final at the World Cup tournament.