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Super Eight: SA Vs Sri Lanka

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Ruthless bashing, sudden collapses, nerve-breaking finishes. You would think you have seen everything. However, with the Cup now down to eight Teams, this tournament promises even more high octane drama to come. Everybody is now in for a kill. Each victory means one step forward, and more importantly, one step ahead of the rival, in the tussle for the precious semi-final spot.

 This match will be important for both the teams, although in slightly varying degrees. South Africa, having lost to the mighty Australians, has come into the Super Eight with a slight disadvantage. However, a win here will negate the disadvantage. More so because it is the pack of four teams i.e. the Africans, Lankans, Windies and Englishmen who have to bend their backs a bit more than the Australians and Kiwis. A loss here could put them in an uncomfortable situation where the last two-three matches might turn out to be knockouts for them.

 On the other hand, the Lankans come in to this stage with a minor advantage. With 5 of their 6 matches being against major teams, the Lankans will want to start well. After all, a good start is half the work done. Their win will affect England and the Windies more than any other team. However, a loss here would mean they would have thrown away the advantage they had.

With the background set, let’s see what stats have to say about the possible results.

 

Why Proteas rank better than Lankans:

 
As stats suggests, the South African bowling stands to give away 226 runs whereas their batting is capable of putting on board 234 runs. The fact that they stand to score a little more than they stand to concede is the reason they have a high win percentage. However, the difference isn’t much, and an error margin would neutralize things.

Lankans, like all sub continental teams (including, these days, Bangladesh) are labeled as a surprise pack. But are they really? Stats say Lankans give away 231 runs when they bowl and amass 223 when they bat.Although these figures do not exactly flatter Sri Lanka, on a given day, anything is possible and even more so in cricket. Again, throw in a slight error margin and this match becomes a close tie. Also, going by the current form of both the teams, looks like it’s time to grab a place on the sofa and settle there for about a 100 overs.

 

The SWOT analysis:

 
To try and settle this deadlock, let us try and take into consideration each team’s minor weaknesses.

 The Lankan bowling battery relies primarily on the performance of Murali. This is clear from the fact that Murali’s bowling average is 5.5 points better than the team’s overall bowling average. Also relevant is the fact that Murali is the only bowler whose average rises substantially above the team’s average. As compared to this, the Proteas have two bowlers– Pollock and Ntini - with averages 4 points more than that of the team. Tame Murali, and Sri Lankan bowling will suddenly seem a lot weaker than it looks now.

It has been observed that Lanka’s best bowling performances come when the opening bowlers grab a couple of quick wickets and set up an ideal platform for Murali to weave his spin magic. The South Africans may be interested in avoiding such a situation.

 
Contrary to popular image, the South Africans seem to secure more of their runs in boundaries rather than through singles and twos. Thus, choking them may help the Lankans. But with batting averages of four of their top-order batsmen being higher than the team’s batting average by more than 10 points (and with Kallis on a whopping 20 points), the African batting holds a slight edge over the Lankans.

 This World Cup has seen enough drama for us to be wise enough to not to judge winners on paper. Especially so when the match is so evenly poised. The results of this match is likely to decide a lot of strategies for many teams.     



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