Sri Lanka v South Africa: Lions still in the hunt with Proteas playing for pride
Sri Lanka head into Friday's meeting against South Africa riding the crest of a wave having dealt England a major Cricket World Cup shock last time out.
Few gave Sri Lanka much of a chance against the tournament hosts, but a stunning bowling display saw Dimuth Karunaratne's side defend their 232-9 to win by 20 runs at Headingley.
That victory lifted the Lions to six points from six matches, two behind fourth-placed England, who are under increased pressure following another loss to Australia on Tuesday.
With Pakistan and Bangladesh also in contention to make the semi-finals, Sri Lanka may need to win all three remaining games to progress, with West Indies and India still to come.
South Africa, meanwhile, have endured a torrid tournament and are already out of contention.
Their sole victory came against Afghanistan – the only team yet to register a point in the competition – and the Proteas' campaign has been undermined by injuries and loss of form to key players, as well as the selection furore surrounding AB de Villiers on the eve of the squad being announced.
All is certainly not well within the camp, but the 2015 semi-finalists will be desperate to salvage a measure of pride at The Riverside.
TOURNAMENT SO FAR
After an opening hammering at the hands of New Zealand and an unconvincing win over Afghanistan, Sri Lanka suffered washouts against Pakistan and Bangladesh that could yet scupper their top-four hopes. They bounced back superbly from defeat to Australia to sensationally stun England, though.
Losses to England, Bangladesh and India before a no-result with West Indies left South Africa with a mountain to climb. Victory over Afghanistan provided a glimmer of hope but defeats against New Zealand and Pakistan saw the Proteas eliminated.
RESULT | SA 259/9, 50 overs— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) June 23, 2019
The Proteas fall 49 runs short in their seventh match of the #CWC19
“We're not playing great cricket. Whole tournament we've been good with the ball, but today we gave them a really good start” - #FafDuPlessis#ProteaFire#PAKvSApic.twitter.com/iAyZjGbnE0
WHAT THEY SAID
Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha: "You can take it either way. When you have no pressure of qualifying, they [South Africa] can come and play without any pressure, fearless cricket and that can get them going, so at the same time they can turn up and just want to go home, so you never know."
South Africa all-rounder JP Duminy: "Ultimately you need to make that decision for yourself. Is your foot on the plane or does that give you a sense of freedom? I 100 per cent agree with the freedom. Just go out and play your natural game, your naturally-gifted game."
- South Africa have won 16 of their last 18 ODIs against Sri Lanka, including the last five meetings. The two losses in that run came in successive games in August 2018.
- Sri Lanka have won both of their two previous ODIs at The Riverside, both times against England by margins of eight wickets in 2006 and 157 runs in 2014.
- Lasith Malinga's next maiden over will be his 100th in this format; he would become just the fourth player to reach a century of maidens for Sri Lanka in ODIs (Chaminda Vaas – 278, Muttiah Muralitharan – 195, Nuwan Kulasekara – 106).