South Africa aiming for first ever World Cup knockout victory
Pre-World Cup second-favourites South Africa (now third-equal in the betting with Coral at 4/1) are certainly up against it in their quarter-final battle with Sri Lanka (14/1).
The Proteas may be odds-on favourites at 4/9 for victory at the SCG in Sydney, but have never won this tournament, never triumphed in a World Cup knockout match and lost both group games against other South Asian nations, India and Pakistan, this year.
Therefore, 1996 champions Sri Lanka, who were defeated by just co-hosts Australia and New Zealand in Pool A, are tempting 7/4 chances to make it to the semi-finals for the fourth successive finals.
However, South Africa head coach Russell Domingo is hopeful his highly-talented team can finally produce on the bigger stage. They have never won the World Cup, but have made it to the semis three times after making it through round robin groups.
“We’ve faced the fact that in the past we have let opportunities slip by us,” Domingo said. “Hopefully we’d have learned from the mistakes that previous sides have made at events like this.
“And by all means we want to avoid that happening to us but at the end of the day, we just want to play good cricket if the opportunity arises.”
South Africa have produced 400 plus totals this tournament so far, against Ireland and the West Indies, though, with captain AB de Villiers unsurprisingly their highest scorer so far, with 417 (83.40 average) from his six innings.
De Villiers, who smashed the quickest ever ODI century (in terms of deliveries faced) prior to this World Cup, and achieved the feat for 150s at these finals, is 11/4 to be best Proteas batsman once more.
He is also involved in a wincast, where he is priced at 4/1 to be highest South Africa scorer and his side win.
The likes of David Miller and Hashim Amla have also hit huge hundreds this World Cup, and are 7/1 and 1/4 shouts respectively to be best batsman for their team.
For 2007 and 2011 finalists Sri Lanka, though, evergreen Kumar Sangakkara is in arguably the form of his life, coming into this match on the back of smashing four successive centuries. The 37-year-old leads the way in terms of runs this World Cup, and is an enticing 5/2 to top score for the Lions once more.
Fellow late-30s batsmen Tillakaratne Dilshan (7/2 in the same market) and Mahela Jayawardene (9/2) have also hit three figures in matches this tournament.
In terms of bowling, South Africa’s Dale Steyn and Lasith Malinga of Sri Lanka will be the main threats, and are 3/1 and 9/4 to get the bets figures for their respective nations.