| Vaas: In sparkling form
Durban: Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya aims to crush South Africa’s World Cup dream when the two sides clash in a do-or-die encounter under the Kingsmead lights on Monday.
“I think we’ve got a good chance,” he said of a match which could secure top place in pool B for the 1996 champions and eliminate the hosts from Super Six contention.
With Kenya having already qualified, there are only two places left to fight over — the battle being among Sri Lanka, South Africa and New Zealand, who take on Canada on Monday.
Jayasuriya said he believed Sri Lanka had the bowling to make inroads in the South African batting on a pitch which usually favours pace bowling, with left-arm swing bowler Chaminda Vaas looking to continue in the form which has made him the bowler of the tournament.
Vaas has taken 16 wickets at 7.81 to top the wicket-takers and the averages, while his off-spinning teammate Muttiah Muralidharan is not far behind, with 11 wickets at 11.27.
Asked whether he was concerned that the back-up bowling was a long way short of the standard of his aces, Jayasuriya said the pace of Dilhara Fernando and Pulasthi Gunaratne or Prabath Nissanka and the spin of Aravinda de Silva and himself was enough.
“The support bowling has been good. We have been able to get the job done,” he said. “The worrying factor is the batting.”
South African captain Shaun Pollock is confident that his struggling team would be able to put together a good performance at Kingsmead, his home ground and he said he was not worried about criticism that conditions change after dark in day-night games.
“It’s my favourite ground. We know the conditions. I don’t mind whether we bat first or second,” he said.
Pollock said his players had performed well enough in what many observers saw as a disappointing win over Canada on Thursday when they could only take five wickets.
“The batsmen had time in the middle and the bowlers showed good discipline,” he said.
The only key player yet to spark was allrounder Jacques Kallis. “But he’s been looking good in the nets and it’s just a matter of time before he makes a score.”
Rain prevented the South Africans from practising on Saturday, which meant the team management missed another chance to assess the form of Allan Donald, the veteran fast bowler who has had a dismal tournament.
South Africa (from): Shaun Pollock (capt.), Mark Boucher, Nicky Boje, Boeta Dippenaar, Allan Donald, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Gary Kirsten, Lance Klusener, Charl Langeveldt, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Graeme Smith, Monde Zondeki.
Sri Lanka (from): Sanath Jayasuriya (capt.), Maravan Atapattu, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva, Russel Arnold, Jehan Mubarak, Avishka Gunawardene, Hashan Tillekeratne, Muttiah Muralidharan, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Pulasthi Gunaratne, Prabath Nissanka, Charitha Buddhika.
Umpires: Steve Bucknor (WI), Srinivas Venkatraghavan (Ind).
Third Umpire: Peter Willey (Eng).
Match Referee: Clive Lloyd (WI).