SL v SA, World T20 2012, Group C, Hambantota September 21, 2012

Bully boys seek first challenge

Match facts

September 22, 2012
Start time 1530 local (1000 GMT)

Big Picture

Both sides have got their bullying out of the way, having beaten Zimbabwe by 82 runs and 10 wickets respectively, and Sri Lanka and South Africa are now ready to do business. That may sound odd considering that both having both already qualified for the Super Eights but neither have been challenged properly yet and will want to test themselves before a tough next round.

Sri Lanka will be happy with the form of one of their most important bowlers, Ajantha Mendis. His 6 for 8 are figures unlikely to be repeated but Mendis showed he is back in a big way. He deceived the Zimbabwe batsmen with an assortment of carom balls and googlies and while the South African line-up may not be so easily hoodwinked, some of them are known to have a weakness against spin.

South Africa's middle order remains untested after only Richard Levi and Hashim Amla batted against Zimbabwe and they are yet to face any pressure, a catalyst for some of their worst major tournament showing. Sri Lanka will look to target that area of the opposition's game because every other part of it seems solid.

South Africa's seamers were effective on the Hambantota pitch and even though their spinners were not called into action too much, they have enough options available to them to be able to afford one bowler having a bad day. The hosts have similar variation in their ranks, with enough allrounders to have all bases covered and with the advantage of their middle order having had a decent run.

By all accounts the match-ups between the teams pre-empts a much closer contest than the group has seen so far. Even though it will not be decisive in terms of who the team play in the next round it will be important in determining who has more might for the big duels ahead.

Form guide

South Africa WLWWW (completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WLLWL

Watch out for

After captaining Sri Lanka to series defeats in South Africa last summer, Tillakaratne Dilshan may be pleased to see them on his home turf. Relieved of the armband and with a new opening partner, Dilshan seems to be enjoying his freedom and looked ominous against Zimbabwe. He had the full range on display, including the "Dilscoop" and will want to show South Africa some of what he is capable of but did not manage to do earlier in the year.

Dale Steyn started the tournament with a delivery that measured 140 kph on the speed gun and does not show any sign of slowing down. Although Steyn called the Hambantota conditions "slippery" he acknowledged that it made a welcome change to play on a subcontinental pitch that has something in it for the seamers and will want to exploit that while it lasts.

Team news

Sri Lanka have an injury worry with their strike spinner, Ajantha Mendis, picking up a side strain after the Zimbabwe game. His fitness will be assessed on the day of the game. If he sits out, the offspinner Akila Dananjaya could be in line for his international debut.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Dilshan Munaweera, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Jeevan Mendis, 8 Thisara Perera, 9 Shaminda Eranga, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Ajantha Mendis/Akila Dananjaya

South Africa will also not have many reasons to change a winning XI, unless the stomach bug returns. After giving Zimbabwe a work over in their opening match, South Africa's bowling attack would seem to need no tinkering. Their middle order remains untested and either Faf du Plessis or Justin Ontong could be brought in but they may want to give the current XI a run against tougher opposition.

South Africa (probable): 1 Richard Levi, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Albie Morkel 8 Johan Botha 9 Robin Peterson 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Dale Steyn

Pitch and conditions

Both batsmen and bowlers have described the Hambantota surface as difficult to get in on but have admitted that there remains something in it for the quicks. Another hot, humid day awaits with temperatures around 28 degrees Celsius and a bit of rain about for the afternoon and evening so the bounce and carry seen so far will likely stay around on the same pitch used for the first match - one that took much more turn than the one used last evening.

Stats and trivia

  • Ajantha Mendis' six wickets against Zimbabwe on Tuesday saw him leapfrog Lasith Malinga as the highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka in T20s. Mendis' 46 wickets have come at an average of 9.84.
  • South Africa have the best win-loss record of all teams in T20s. They have played 48 matches, won 31 and lost 16.
  • Mahela Jayawardene needs six more for 1000 runs in T20 internationals.


    "South Africa are a good unit, but probably their lower middle order a little inexperienced. What we need to do is focus on our strengths. If we play to our strengths we're going to give them a very good game rather than falling into their trap." Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene identifies his game plan.

    "I don't think there will be any drop in intensity for the Sri Lanka game. We're in the beginning stages of a very, very big event, a tournament that we really want to win. You have to play well in every game and improve in every game." AB de Villiers ensures his side won't take their foot off the gas.

    Our US readers can watch the match live here, coverage starts 30 minutes before the game begins.

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent