Picking South Africa and Sri Lanka's combined 11 for the 2023 World Cup ft. Heinrich Klaasen and Matheesha Pathirana 

A combined best XI of South Africa and Sri Lanka [Getty Images]
A combined best XI of South Africa and Sri Lanka [Getty Images]

In what could be a fascinating encounter, South Africa are set to square off against Sri Lanka in Match 4 of the ongoing 2023 ODI World Cup. The much-awaited fixture is scheduled to be played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Saturday, October 7.

Both teams failed to win a single game in the warm-ups. While Sri Lanka were humbled by both their Asian rivals in Bangladesh and Afghanistan, South Africa could play only one practice game, where they lost against New Zealand by seven wickets (DLS method).

Having said that, both Sri Lanka and South Africa will be looking to make a resounding start to their campaigns. They have all the ingredients to do well in the tournament but will have to dish out consistent performances throughout the competition.

Ahead of the high-octane South Africa-Sri Lanka 2023 ODI World Cup match, we pick a combined XI, featuring players who are taking part in the ongoing ICC event.


Openers: Quinton de Kock (wk) and Pathum Nissanka

Quinton de Kock during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023 warm-up fixture [Getty Images]
Quinton de Kock during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023 warm-up fixture [Getty Images]

South Africa's Quinton de Kock and Sri Lanka's Pathum Nissanka will open the batting for the combined XI. The right-and-left-hand combination up top always proves to be an advantage for the batting team.

For de Kock, his selection in the team was unquestionable, as he is one of the best white-ball opening batters of his generation. In 145 ODI innings, the wicket-keeper batter has amassed 6,176 runs at an average of 44.75. This also includes an impressive 30 half-centuries and 17 hundreds as well.

Moreover, the 2023 mega event will be De Kock's last ODI assignment, with Saturday's encounter most probably being his last ODI game against Sri Lanka.

Partnering De Kock will be Nissanka. The talented right-hander has been in top form of late. Since the start of 2022, the 25-year-old has been Sri Lanka's highest ODI run-getter, having scored 1,310 runs at an average of 46.78.

While putting De Kock's original opening partner, Temba Bavuma, wouldn't be a bad shout as well. However, we have gone ahead with Nissanka, given that the middle order of the combined XI is stacked up with other South African players.


Middle-order: Kusal Mendis, Aiden Markram (c), Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller

South Africa and Sri Lanka have two of the best middle-order batting units [Getty Images]
South Africa and Sri Lanka have two of the best middle-order batting units [Getty Images]

One similarity between South Africa and Sri Lanka is the presence of strength and firepower in their middle-order. Undoubtedly, they are the two teams with two of the best middle-order batting lineups in the tournament.

The middle-order of this combined XI comprises Kusal Mendis, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, and David Miller.

At No. 3 is Kusal Mendis, who plays aggressively at the top order. He recently came up with a resounding knock of 158 runs off only 87 balls during a warm-up fixture against Afghanistan. Since 2022, Mendis has scored 987 ODI runs at an average of 38 across 32 innings for Sri Lanka.

The No. 4, 5, and 6 of this team will be stacked up by South Africa's very own Markram, Klaasen, and Miller. All three have been phenomenal in the middle and death overs for the Proteas.

In the last 12 months, both Markram and Klaasen have hammered 665 ODI runs at an average of 55.41 and 60.45, respectively. Remarkably, their strike rates have also been on the higher side, with Markram scoring at 111.76, while Klaasen at 138.25. Both are adept players of both spin and pace.

Similarly, Miller's numbers have also been superlative. In the same period, the southpaw has accumulated 551 runs at an immaculate average and strike rate of 61.22 and 118.75, respectively.


All-rounders: Marco Jansen and Dunith Wellalage

Dunith Wellalage celebrating with his teammates [Getty Images]
Dunith Wellalage celebrating with his teammates [Getty Images]

Youngsters Marco Jansen and Dunith Wellalage will be the two all-rounders in this team. Both players will play a key role for their respective sides in the tournament.

While Jansen will bridge the gap between batting and bowling for South Africa, Wellalage will be used as an attacking option for the Lankans. He has taken the joint-most ODI wickets for the Proteas in the last 12 months, scalping 16 wickets at an average of 36.37 across 12 innings.

Wellalage, meanwhile, will be rearing to build on his confidence after a successful Asia Cup 2023, where he picked up a vital 5/40 against a strong Indian batting unit.

Both Jansen and Wellalage will also add variety to the bowling attack with their left-arm angles.


Bowlers: Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi and Matheesha Pathirana

Matheesha Pathirana will play a key role in Sri Lanka's World Cup hopes.
Matheesha Pathirana will play a key role in Sri Lanka's World Cup hopes.

The South Africa-Sri Lanka combined XI will have three frontline blowers in Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, and Matheesha Pathirana. All three are out-and-out match-winners on their day.

Rabada, in particular, is considered one of the best pacers of his generation and can instill fear in any opposition. Having bowled across 90 ODI innings, the Johannesburg lad has taken 144 wickets at an average of 27.76.

Another Protea player to feature on the XI is Tabraiz Shamsi. His left-arm chinaman bowling is a rare commodity. He will have a key role to play for South Africa in the World Cup, given that much will be expected from him while bowling in India.

Shamsi has been in decent form of late, picking up 23 ODI wickets at an average of just under 30 in the last two years. He has been South Africa's second-highest wicket-taker in ODIs in the said period.

At No. 11 is Pathirana, who is famous for his 'slingy' action. He is someone who can nail those crucial yorkers at will and is difficult to get away with due to his unorthodox bowling style.

Despite being just 20 years old, this will be important for Sri Lanka in the World Cup. Across just ten ODIs, the youngster has picked up 15 wickets at a decent strike rate of 26.27.

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Edited by Anirudh
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