South Africa v Sri Lanka at Paarl, 1st ODI

I am home today, and therefore have the opportunity to watch the first ODI between South African and Sri Lanka.  It is the second innings, Sri Lanka are chasing 302, and they have already lost two of their openers.  So unless Chandimal and Sangakkara can steady the ship, this could be over pretty quickly.

I was however able to watch “Slinga” Malinga rip through South Africa’s tail – always a joy to watch him bowl (especially against tail enders.)

Cool stadium, by the way, at Paarl.  It is nestled in amongst the hills just northeast of Cape Town.

The ground seats 10,000, and it is full today – impressive for a week day.  (I say “seats” – but  it is mostly just a grassy hill overlooking the ground.)

Sri Lanka need six runs an over, very doable, hopefully they will make a game out of this, as it is not every day I can watch an entire ODI chase.

And speaking of Sri Lankan cricket:

During the Switch-Hit podcast a few weeks back, right after Sri Lanka defeated South Africa at Durban, the hosts mentioned how important it is for the future of world cricket to have a strong Sri Lanka, a strong West Indies, a strong Pakistan.

The latter two of those three nations will be facing England, the world test number one, for three tests a piece here in 2012, giving us all a great opportunity to see if the future of world cricket is bright or not.  If Pakistan can win one, or even two, in Dubai, and if the West Indies can travel to a damp England and win just one, I think it will be very good for this game we all love.

And even if England wins both series in a pair of white-washes, hopefully Pakistan and the Windies can at the very least give them a fight, something that didn’t happen for 386 days.

Which brings us nicely into a chance for a Limited Overs style preview of the Pakistan v England test series.

The first test starts on January 13th, the second starts on January 25th, and the third on February 3rd.

The first and third tests will be taking place at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, with the second taking place Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

(For information on the grounds, see this older post of mine.)

What can we expect from the weather?  Well, I have a feeling it will be hot, and dry, but not as hot as you would think – the forecasts calls for highs in the 70s for Saturday and Sunday, and not as dry as you might think, the humidity levels will be hovering in the 60% range.

This, of course, means the condition of the wicket will be a lot more of an issue than I had assumed.  I had assumed hot, dry, and flat, but we might get some cloud cover, might get some humidity, might get some cool mornings.  It should make for an interesting few days play.

The boys on Switch Hit also talked about the crowds, or lack thereof, expected for the matches.  I guess the ECB is giving tickets away for free, but I still expect both stadiums to be basically empty for all three matches, despite the presence of the Barmy Army.

I guess cricket is wildly popular in the middle east, and has a long and storied history in that region (more on that another day), but that fanaticism has yet to translate into people actually attending matches.

Personally, and I know it is an impossiblity, I just wish that these matches were being played in Islamabad (as does the whole of Pakistan, surely.)  That would make this series infinitely more exciting, and infinitely more challenging for England  – a real chance to prove they really the best test side in the world.

Also, unfortunately, the matches will not be available via Willow.tv here in the states, only in Canada.  Why this is, I don’t know, but considering Willow.tv is having its law firm contact those that watch cricket illegally, I think I will stick to following these matches via Cricinfo.  Too bad, though, as I think all three matches are going to be ragers.

Prediction?  It finishes 1-1.

Now back to watching Sri Lanka collapse, until next time.

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