South Africa v Sri Lanka
Friday, 10:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Betfair Live Video
As we reach the end of the group stages, inevitably some teams have more to play for than others. When the fixtures came out, few could have foreseen that it would be Sri Lanka, rather than South Africa, whose tournament hopes are still alive.
Will extra motivation favour Sri Lanka?
Usually a gamble develops behind the better motivated team so I won't be at all surprised to see the betting tighten up. At the time of writing, South Africa are 1.584/7, Sri Lanka 2.77/4.
A month ago South Africa would have been considerably shorter favourites. They'd just won their warm-up match by 87 runs, adding to a run of 16 wins from 18 matches against these opponents dating back to 2014.
In due course, normal service will doubtless resume but obviously, they cannot be in good spirits given this bitterly disappointing campaign.
South Africa overdue a matchwinning innings
Much can be put down to good starts not being followed through and a lack of match winning performances. No batsman has made 70 but six average 29 or better. The top order hasn't delivered so this could be a good time to make changes and experiment.
Remarkably, Sri Lanka have a genuine shot at the semis. This is winnable and their next match is against West Indies, who are also already out. Two wins from three including the much less beatable India could get them through.
That is still an enormous ask for a side that hasn't hit 250 yet. Their six points amount to two washouts, victory over Afghanistan and a massive upset against England.
Sri Lankan chance revolves around bowlers
The two victories revolved around brilliant spells from Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep and Dhananjaya de Silva and therein lies their chance. South Africa have been brittle and only reached 260 once themselves.
Nevertheless I prefer the better side, regardless of motivation. World Cups matter to all professionals. The pressure is now off and their hitters might just relax and enjoy it. The pre-match odds make no appeal but I'll be backing South Africa if they hit 2.01/1 at any stage.
Given those batting failures plus trends in recent days, on used pitches or lively surfaces that have been under cover, the run line will likely be set lower than usual. My 1st Innings Runs par estimate is 270 plus for South Africa, 250 or more for Sri Lanka.
Fresh Durham pitch could signal runs
This is the first match at Chester-le-Street so this pitch will be fresh. If conditions are good for batting - the weather looks fine - then big scores are on offer. England chased down 314 with 32 balls to spare last year. Durham managed 342 during the Royal London One Day Cup.
I retain grave doubts over Sri Lanka's ability to hit competitive totals but South Africa have the talent to go big. If around 3.211/5, 300 or more could be the bet.
Three South African batsmen appeal for bets. The skipper is bound to be motivated and Faf du Plessis top-scored last time for the second time in the tournament. 6/1 for Top Match Batsman is preferred to his own country's list.
Rassie van der Dussen's efforts have been a rare positive. He's averaging 54 from batting anywhere between four and seven. In this case, take 7/1 for Top SA Runscorer and 13/1 for Top Match Batsman.
If they do experiment or even juggle mid-innings, Chris Morris could make a mockery of these 45/1 odds. The all-rounder has by far their highest strike average and already top-scored against India.
Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne tops their list at 3/1 ahead of Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera at 4/1. Having returned to form with a fine 85 not out, I'll go for Angelo Mathews at 5/1. The former captain is their most reliable performer at this level.
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