South Africa's JP Duminy in action during Monday's ODI win over England. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Couldridge

South Africa are not the only team with injury concerns, ahead of Saturday’s Champions Trophy opening match in Group B.

While Imran Tahir and David Miller are making encouraging progress with their hamstring strains, the news is not so good for Sri Lanka, who look almost certain to be without their captain and talisman, Angelo Mathews.

He is nursing a calf injury, and the omens are not good for a man who is fresh off a hard-hitting 95 against Australia in the warm-up games.

South Africa, meanwhile, go into Saturday’s match with a great recent record against Sri Lanka, but JP Duminy warned that history counts for nothing at a tournament like the Champions Trophy.

“We do have a good record against them, but the past is the past. Pretty much every game is a knockout game, so both teams come into the tournament with a clean slate,” the senior batsman warned.

“We have got to make sure we focus on our processes, and play our best cricket,” he told reporters before the team’s practice at the London School of Economics, of all places.

Duminy added that the team was in a good place, and had taken a lot out of the England series, despite results not going their way completely.

“I think the timing was perfect, just before the Champions Trophy. It gave us a chance to adapt to conditions – to know what is good and bad, so we take a lot out of it.”

Early summer in England often provides a bit of nibble for bowlers, and Duminy confirmed that the Lord’s wicket certainly had a bit about it.

“It’s just getting into heart of summer, so some wickets are pretty good for batting. But, like we saw at Lord’s, there is also a bit in the wicket for the bowlers. That first hour and a half certainly had a Test match feel to it.”

As a team, South Africa took a few days away from cricket matters earlier this week, but they are now back in the zone. Duminy revealed that, despite several players now on the other side of 30, there was no extra pressure on the players from within, because their window is closing.

“Every game for South Africa is important. But there is no extra pressure on us, like we ‘need to win it’. Of course, we want to win this tournament. We will take it one game at a time. There is always expectation within the team, so that will never change,” he explained.

As is the norm, South Africa have already been installed as one of the main contenders, but Duminy maintained that the team is not getting ahead of themselves.

“We want to stay in the moment, and not to look too far ahead. That is what we also got from the England series.”

Ahead of them right now is Sri Lanka, albeit a limping island unit, especially without their skipper, who was their standout player when they visited South Africa in the summer, too.

The Lankans, of course, have strong South African influence, and they will be desperate to provide the almost obligatory upset in this tournament.

South Africa, having balanced their books at the School of Economics nets, will be after a complete performance, before battles with the might of Pakistan and India next week.

The talking will soon be at an end, and the blur of the Champions Trophy will be on full throttle.

Brace yourselves.

South Africa play Sri Lanka in their opening Group B match on Saturday.

Independent Media

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