Proteas seek freedom in Sri Lanka dead-rubber

JP Duminy (Getty)
JP Duminy (Getty)

Durham - Pressure and the Proteas is not a combination that works well at Cricket World Cups, but on Friday in Durham South Africa have no reason to go down that path when they take on Sri Lanka. 

One win from seven outings means that the World Cup is already over for skipper Faf du Plessis and his men, and the two matches they have left (they play Australia in Manchester on July 6) can only serve to restore a smidgen of pride to what has been a woeful campaign so far. 

It is a massive fixture for Sri Lanka, though, who are still very much in the hunt for a semi-final berth. 

The last time the sides met was back in March when the Proteas secured a 5-0 ODI series win on home soil. 

As this World Cup has proven, however, what happened in the months before has counted for very little for the Proteas. 

Whatever it is, South Africa just cannot get it right at major tournaments. 

They go onto Friday's match hopeful that they can finally strong together the performance they know they are capable of. 

Throughout the World Cup the South African top order has failed to fire, with nobody getting out of the 60s despite numerous starts. 

That is one area where they will seek noticeable improvement, and the fact that they were so recently exposed to the Sri Lankan attack should stand them in good stead. 

It would be so typically South African if the Proteas get it right on Friday, but even if it can't save this failed World Cup, a polished display would at least give a much-needed reminder that these players are better than results have suggested. 

For JP Duminy, who will play on Friday, this is an opportunity for players to remove the shackles and show what they are about. 

"From a leadership point of view, you can speak about that but ultimately you need to make that decision for yourself," said Duminy.

"Is your foot on the plane or does that give you a sense of freedom?

"Just go out and play your natural game, your naturally-gifted game. And that's not a cop-out. That is just an understanding that you have almost the licence to just go out and play with the freedom that you were allowed to play with almost as a young kid and play with a smile on your face, play to enjoy the game and that's the kind of mentality that I certainly want to end my international one-day career with."

Duminy has announced that he will retire from ODI cricket at the end of the World Cup, meaning that he has a maximum of two matches left in him.

"It's just about enjoying it, having fun with my friends on the field and understanding what a huge privilege it was to represent my country so many times.

"You should never take that for granted and if any of us have one foot on the plane, that means you are taking it for granted. And that is definitely something that we don't encourage."

Play starts at 11:30 (SA time). 

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...  

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