SYDNEY: Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews won the toss and decided to bat first against South Africa in the first World Cup quarter-final at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Wednesday.
After the morning cloud cover cleared to leave a warm and sunny day at the SCG, it was inevitable that whoever won the toss would opt to try and put runs on the board.
Both sides have relied on strong batting to get to the knockout stages and both lost two pool games when batting second.
“It’s a big quarter-final and we want to put the runs on the board,” Mathews said.
“(The pitch) Looks really good, looks nice and hard. We have to start fresh, it’s a new game, new opposition, we will need to play good cricket.”
Sri Lanka made one change to the side from their last match with leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna replaced by off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal.
Optimism over Rangana Herath’s ability to recover from the cut he suffered to his spinning finger faded after training on Tuesday and he was ruled out of the tournament earlier on Wednesday.
Kaushal, who had been on standby, therefore makes his one-day international debut on a ground which traditionally offers something for the slow bowlers.
The Sri Lankans also made a switch in their batting order with Kusal Perera moving up to open with Tillakaratne Dilshan, while Lahiru Thirimanne dropped down to number six.
Batsman Faf du Plessis, who missed South Africa’s final group match against United Arab Emirates with a lower back problem, returned to the Proteas top order.
All-rounder Farhaan Behardien was dropped to keep Rilee Rossouw in the side, while Kyle Abbott returns to replace Vernon Philander in the pace attack.
“We’re prepared for it,” said South Africa skipper AB de Villiers. “We know if we play to our potential, no one can stop us. We back ourselves to chase any total Sri Lanka get.”
The winner of the match will head to Auckland for the semi-final against the winner of the fourth quarter-final between New Zealand and West Indies.
Sri Lanka – Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Tharindu Kaushal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga.
South Africa – Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Rilee Rossouw, A.B. de Villiers, David Miller, J.P. Duminy, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abott, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.