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ICC Champions Trophy 2017, South Africa vs Sri Lanka: 5 players to watch out for

rohit sankar
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
2.99K   //    02 Jun 2017, 18:20 IST
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MAY 26:  AB De Villiers of South Africa in action during a South Africa nets session at Ageas Bowl on May 26, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)
AB de Villiers will hope for a winning start when South Africa take on Sri Lanka in their first match

South Africa start their first ever ICC Trophy hunt for the umpteenth time against Sri Lanka at The Oval on Friday. Having lost 2-1 to England in the ODI series preceding the tournament, the Proteas walk in with a settled batting line-up and question marks hanging over their bowling combinations. 

They also have to sort out the all-rounders’ puzzle with four of them lined up to be selected. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are likely to go in without Angelo Matthews, who made an impact in the warm-up game against the Australians this week. Upul Tharanga, who is expected to lead in his absence, has regained some lost touch and will be a critical member in the Lankan line-up. 

The Oval saw a run fest in the tournament opener between England and Bangladesh and if the rain stays away, it promises to be another high scoring game. South Africa boast of four batsmen in the top 10 of the ICC ODI rankings and also have Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir at 1 and 2 in ICC's ODI bowlers’ list.

Here we take a glance at five players who could be game-changers in the clash on June 3rd.

#5 Asela Gunaratne

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 17:  Adela Gunaratne of Sri Lankareacts after being hit in the groin by a delivery during the first International Twenty20 match between Australia and Sri Lanka at Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 17, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Asela Gunaratne has been in good nick for the Lankans

All-rounder, Asela Gunaratne, will be a vital component of the Sri Lankan line-up, especially with Angelo Matthews all but ruled out of the clash tomorrow. A fine finisher and middle-over batsman, Gunaratne has excelled for Sri Lanka in the past few months in the shorter formats. 

He played a fighting innings against South Africa in the fifth match of the ODI series, a valiant 114* in a losing cause – till date his only hundred in ODIs. While the result of the match was sealed long back, Sri Lanka got to witness the potential of Gunaratne, who has since then become a regular fixture in the Lankan limited-overs sides.

Record against South Africa

Matches - 5, Runs - 182, HS - 114*, Avg - 45.50

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rohit sankar
SENIOR ANALYST
I am a passionate Cricket fan first and a writer, second. I find empty spaces and fill them with words. And if it's cricket, the words keep flowing. The views I express portray a direct reflection of my love for the game and its finer details.
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