South Africa and Sri Lanka will be entering new territory when they meet in a World Cup Super Eight match at the Guyana National Stadium on Wednesday.
The match is the first of any consequence to be played at a new stadium, outside the capital Georgetown, where workers are still battling to get everything ready for the big match. Rain prevented both teams from practising on Monday and the pitch remained under cover, so the players could not make any assessment of it.
South African coach Mickey Arthur said he hoped the pitch would have more pace and bounce than Guyana’s old international ground, the Bourda in Georgetown, which was notoriously low and slow.
“We have been told by (International Cricket Council pitch consultant) Andy Atkinson that it should have reasonable bounce,” said Arthur.
More rain was predicted for Tuesday but it is expected to clear by match day, although there may still be scattered thundershowers. The previous World Cup meeting between the two sides was dramatic.
When rain ended play in Durban in 2003, the scores were tied on the Duckworth-Lewis method. South Africa needed a win and, for the second time in successive World Cups, were eliminated after a tied match.
This time around, the pitch could again play a crucial role. If it has pace and bounce, South Africa will be confident that they can overpower their opponents with their seam-based attack. But if it helps the slow bowlers in any way it will be Sri Lanka who will fancy their chances.