South Africa eye the 'big one'

Mark Boucher

Mark Boucher is aggrieved by the treatment they received in the media © Getty Images

Sri Lanka might be struggling to understand South Africa’s grievances, but they will have to be ready to face a fired-up Proteas side in the Champions Trophy in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene moved to calm tensions between the two sides amid talk of a grudge match after Mark Boucher admitted South Africa were viewing the match as “a big one”.

The South Africa squad were angered by their treatment in the Sri Lankan media, who labelled them as chickens after they pulled out of their tour in August because of a bomb blast a few hundred metres from their hotel.

But Jayawardene said: "Mark can call it anything he wants. For me, it's not about revenge or grudges.

"We are all professionals and we are here to play cricket. The media can build up any type of hype.

"I know teams who have been called worse things. I don't believe Mark really means it. We players never responded to South Africa leaving the Sri Lankan shores.

“We never called them chickens. But if they want to treat this as a grudge match, I think we are in good hands. Their focus will not be on cricket then, so we'll be happy about that."

However, if South Africa captain Graeme Smith is anything to go by, the South Africans certainly do have cricket on their minds.

After they lost their opening match of the tournament to New Zealand by 87 runs, it is all or nothing for South Africa, with a loss effectively putting them on the plane home.

Smith knows winning will be no easy task against the qualifiers who bounced back from defeat against Pakistan to beat the Black Caps by seven wickets.

He said: "Sri Lanka are probably the form team in the tournament as they have been playing since the qualifying round. They have got their combinations right and most of their players are performing well.

"Probably the conditions here will suit Sri Lanka more, but it does not mean we don't believe we can't beat them. We know we are a quality one-day team ranked number two in the world. Hopefully, we can show it.”

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