Perennial underachievers South Africa are favorite to win this year’s ICC Champions Trophy, but with their history of almost stunning blowouts in previous ICC tournaments where they were equally highly rated, it remains to be seen if they end their 19-year-old jinx with ICC championships. The South Africans are the number one ODI side in the world and have a string of proven match-winners in Hashim Amla, AB de Villers and Imran Tahir. They also have some equally promising young guns in Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris, who the Indian audience may recognise from their heroics in the recently concluded Indian Premier League. Additionally, 38-year-old Imran Tahir will add the much-needed sting in their bowling attack, ensuring that the traditionally pace-centric Proteas bowling has the wholeness needed to face all conditions. The success of English leg-spinner Adil Rashid in the recent ODI series against Ireland, where he took 6 wickets in 2 matches, points to the need for a spinner in the bouncing English pitches.
In other CT news, Sri Lanka suffered an upset against cricket outsiders Scotland on Sunday. A double-century partnership between Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross helped Scotland register a rare win over giants Sri Lanka, in a practice game at Beckenham. This was Scotland’s first victory against a full ICC member across any format. On the contrary, the defeat was a huge setback to the Sri Lankan captain Angelo Matthews, who was hoping for a cakewalk in the run-up to the hugely coveted championship.
Scotland had a perfect start to their run-chase as Coetzer and Cross smashed the Sri Lankan bowlers all over the stadium. The duo shared a 201-run partnership before Thisara Perera got rid of Coetzer for 118 off just 84 balls.
Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington also fell but Cross and skipper Con de Lange ensured there wasn’t a collapse as they sealed the deal with seven wickets and 43 balls remaining.
Coetzer, who scored 71 percent of his runs in boundaries, praised the bowlers for keeping Sri Lanka to a total under 300.
“It’s been a great day,” Coetzer told the Cricket Scotland website.
“Firstly the sun was shining and we played a great game of cricket, particularly to restrict them to less than 300 which was an outstanding performance.
“It was one of those days if it goes your way you have just got to keep riding that wave.”
Both teams clash again on Tuesday before Sri Lanka head to Kennington Oval, London for their ICC Champions Trophy warm-up game against Australia.
Sri Lanka plays one more practice game against New Zealand before facing South Africa in their first group game on June 3.