Sri Lanka players during a training session
Pic courtesy SLC
By Shehan Daniel reporting from Durham
Sri Lanka will be without fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep for today’s key World Cup match against South Africa at the Riverside Grounds in Chester-le-Street, Durham after he had developed fever and a rash.
A team official confirmed that he had been sent to the hospital for tests and has been ruled out with the results of the test still pending.
Pradeep played a role in Sri Lanka’s last match against England, taking the match-winning wicket and conceding just 38 runs in his 10 overs.
Though there is a ready-made replacement in Suranga Lakmal, Pradeep’s absence will still be a blow to a bowling unit that successfully defended 232 against one of the most explosive batting line ups in the world.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha said former captain Angelo Mathews had shown a lot of character, a cue for the other batsmen in the team.
“That is what we have discussed, even before the England game also. They all have done this before, especially someone like Mathews, a world-class player, and he showed a lot of mental resilience in that innings because - he was under pressure, the team was under pressure for various reason and he was not coming without much runs. He showed a lot of character. Those are the things we discussed and (about) having partnerships,” Hathurusingha said.
“He was involved in one or two partnerships, even not batting well as he could or we know he can bat, and Mendis got involved in two good partnerships with Angelo so those are the things that we normally talk. It is very important for us to put partnerships together and click as a batting group,” he also said.
Hathurusingha also said the contributions of Lasith Malinga and Mathews’ had lifted the confidence of the rest of the team.
“That’s the good thing about a great team. The senior players or the big players turn up for the occasion. That has boosted our confidence. Their efforts are crucial for us,” Hathrusingha also said.
Sri Lanka’s window of opportunity to make the semi-finals seemed to closing before the win against England, and Dimuth Karunaratne’s men must now win all of their remaining games to give themselves the best chance of making the knock-out stage.
Their fate however also lies in the hands of other teams, most importantly hosts England and to a lesser degree regional rivals Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Sri Lanka have had a better World Cup campaign than the South Africans having won two games and an equal number of matches washed out without a ball being bowled, while South Africa lost five of their seven matches so far.
Playing an opponent that had nothing to play for will prove to be tricky and Hathurusingha concurred. “When you have no pressure of qualifying, they can come and play without any pressure, (play) fearless cricket and that can get them going. But at the same time they can turn up and just want to go home, so you never know,” the Sri Lankan Head Coach said.
Sri Lanka lost all five ODIs when they toured South Africa in March this year, bowled over by not just the oppositions pace bowling attack but also leg-spinner Imran Tahir, but Hathurusingha believed that not having some of the now in-form batsmen on that tour could help when the two teams meet today.
“I’m looking at is some of the players that are playing tomorrow not being there in South Africa. Angelo was not there and Kusal (Janith Perera) did not play in the last few games and Dimuth (Karunaratne) as well. So they are in form and fortunately, most of the top order got some runs somewhere down the line, so hopefully we click as a batting group this game,” Hathurusingha said.“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 skill-set to compete with them tomorrow,” he added.