Cricket World Cup: Known chokers face grooved knockout machine

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The images of Lance Klusener sprinting towards the non-strikers end, where Alan Donald was still stood motionless, are seared into the cricket community’s consciousness as the most calamitous end to a World Cup choke in South Africa’s history.

Arriving at the Sydney Cricket Ground for their quarter-final clash with Sri Lanka, the Proteas have more than a few unhappy memories haunting them from knockout matches at previous tournaments.

Forever portrayed as favourites in the 50-over competition, South Africa’s unrelenting reputation as big-match bottlers is built on the fact that they have never won a game beyond the World Cup’s various guises of the group stage.

On that basis, the 1/2 about AB de Villiers’ side claiming victory is a little misleading, especially as their opponents have been the gold standard in recent years when it comes to tournament progression.

Sri Lanka have reached at least the semi-finals in all of the last three 50-over World Cups, finishing as runners up in the last two.

Throw in other ICC tournaments like the World T20 and the Champions Trophy and they have only failed to make the final four twice since 2007 in nine tournaments. Yet they are only 13/8 to progress here.

South Africa’s constant failings clearly irk the current side. De Villiers has taken to predicting, flat out, that his side are “not going to choke” in an uncharacteristic show of defiance for cricket captains.

If they are to prevail, then curtailing the in-form Kumar Sangakkara will be key. The elegant left-hander broke an ODI record by scoring four consecutive hundreds in the group stage.

He has a price of 5/2 (boosted to 4/1 for half an hour from 9pm) to be Sri Lanka’s top scorer against the South Africans, but there could be value in backing Mahela Jayawardene in the same field at 9/2. He has an average of 81 from six World Cup knockout innings.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.