Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha has warned that misfiring South Africa could still be dangerous after his side revived their World Cup hopes with a shock victory against England.
The Sri Lankans, the 1996 champions, had a miserable start to the tournament in England and Wales, with just one win from their first five games, during which they suffered two washouts.
But last week’s win against the hosts and England’s subsequent defeat at the hands of Australia has thrown the World Cup wide open.
Hathurusingha said South Africa still posed a threat in Friday’s match, even though they will be heading home after the group phase.
“When you have no pressure of qualifying, they 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,” he said.
Sri Lanka lost their one-day international series earlier this year in South Africa 5-0 but Hathurusingha said the team were confident after their 20-run win against England.
“We think that we have a good chance because we are coming off two wins (they also beat Afghanistan earlier in the tournament) and a very good win against England, although we didn’t play our best cricket to win the game in terms of batting.
“And I think we had a perfect bowling display, defending that target (232-9). I mean, cricket is a funny game.
“You can lose so many games and win the one that is the most important, it is this next game. I think we have enough talent and the skill-set to compete with them tomorrow.”
The coach talked about the importance of putting partnerships together and the need to “click as a batting group”.
“We have been practising a lot of power-hitting with various ways of using the net facilities we have,” he said.
“The good thing that what has worked for us is that the top order, we had two good partnerships at the start, apart from the last game. We know what they can produce and we still back them to do that so hopefully in the next few games they come off.”
Sri Lanka have six points after six matches, one behind Bangladesh and Pakistan and two behind fourth-placed England. Those three competing teams have all played seven games.
The top four sides from the 10-team round-robin phase progress to the semi-finals.