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

SA not intimidated by spin factor

Andrew Fernando in Hambantota

September 21, 2012

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Ajantha Mendis recorded best ever T20I bowling figures, Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, Group C, World T20 2012, Hambantota, September 18, 2012
AB de Villiers says his side know all about Ajantha Mendis © Associated Press

If cricket was science fiction, contests between Sri Lanka and South Africa might be characterised as tussles between Ewoks and Vulcans.

One side is almost cute. Their emphasis on the "Sri Lankan brand of cricket" is fuzzy, and their insistence on allowing bowlers to be themselves no matter how strange, is charmingly different. South Africa meanwhile are efficiency personified. There is little room for sentiment in their outfit and it is all the more formidable because of it. They have developed some of the best players in the world, and know the science of getting everything out of them.

This difference in philosophies is made all the more stark by the teams' varying strengths. Sri Lanka's attack is dripping with x-factor, but there is also brittleness about it. South Africa's bowlers however, are precise and consistent. Sri Lanka revel in spin, whether producing it or playing it, but South Africa are masters of pace, seam and bounce; a brutal art for a dauntless team.

Saturday's encounter between two of the tournament favourites might be a case of who can exploit the other's weakness better. Ajantha Mendis and Jeevan Mendis shared nine Zimbabwe wickets between them, in Sri Lanka's 84-run drubbing of Zimbabwe, then South Africa's pace quartet reaped eight scalps from the same team two nights later. Mahela Jayawardene alluded to South Africa's perceived weakness against spin when he cited their "inexperienced middle order" ahead of the match, and Sri Lanka's troubles against quality pace bowling are well known - even if they have improved in that regard lately.

South Africa are aware they will have to play Ajantha Mendis on the same surface he took a world record 6 for 8 only four days ago, but captain AB de Villiers said his side know plenty about him and are far from intimidated.

"A guy like Mendis is a world class bowler and when he's going well he will always pick up wickets," he said. "But we've seen him perform under pressure and seen him break down under pressure as well. So hopefully, we can get the upper hand against him and not let him bowl to us."

The pitch will play a significant role. The surface on which South Africa demolished Zimbabwe was perhaps the liveliest of the tournament so far, but the strip that will be used on Saturday also had plenty in it for the seamers.

"I was expecting the pitch to bounce a bit, but not as much as it did against Zimbabwe. I was surprised that pitch didn't really take turn. I'm certainly expecting it to turn a bit more when we play Sri Lanka."

Both teams are through to Super Eights, which means the result of this game only becomes relevant in the event of a tie at the end of the next phase. Each captain conceded they will be tempted to test out their bench strength for the effective dead rubber, but de Villiers stressed that it was more than just a warm up for the matches to come.

"I don't think there will be any drop in intensity for the Sri Lanka game," de Villiers said. "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. Sri Lanka are the home team and we're probably underdogs. We'll try and gain some momentum out of the game."

Sri Lanka may also like to give Akila Dananjaya a chance to prove his talent at international level. If he plays alongside Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka's attack will be a showcase of the weird. The Ewoks will hope to hoodwink their opponents into crashing their hovercraft into trees, but if the Vulcans have their way, the script will be clean and predictable but no less impressive.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by dicky_boy on (September 22, 2012, 11:57 GMT)


Posted by Samee6345 on (September 22, 2012, 11:49 GMT)

this time, SA can proof the world they can play spinners in these pitches. They have good players but only thing how they take the pressure situation? Srilankans are good in fielding and batting, they will have advantage of home crowd and they have few batsmen who can change the whole situations in seconds...If SA bowling clicks for sure they can beat SL.. My vote is for SA this time!!

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (September 22, 2012, 11:03 GMT)


Pak cannot beat Black Caps or Bangladesh. What r u talking about.

Posted by gsingh7 on (September 22, 2012, 9:26 GMT)

only pak can stop india from winning this cup , i can see pak india rematch for final from a mile

Posted by Nmiduna on (September 22, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

wen u say clean and predictable..u mean predictably SA is a better team?..even if SL win?..i have nothing annoying in cricket than all this hype..SA only won at home against SL..not in SL.if SA being better at home accounts for their greatness against SL.if SL are great against them in SL, arent SL equally great?>>are seamers and seaming pitches superior than spinners and spinning tracks?..of course seam bowling may be attractive and seaming pitches equally so..but is spinning is a lesser art and spinning tracks are lesser?..that is soo unfair andrew..i say this coz u sound lyk that.i'd say SA have proved nothing against SL until they come here and win a series.then they will be truly the no 1, just like the great Aussie team who could beat SL 3-0 at home.Predictable and clean? mean if SL wins, its unpredictable and weird?.i thought we are over the apartheid and colony eras!

Posted by   on (September 22, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

Oh please! Sri Lanka can rest all their spinners for this match! Let TM Dilshan bowl his gentle offspins at South Africa! That is more than enough!

Posted by ian45 on (September 22, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

damn1234, is that so, do you remember a certain odi at paarl, lankans 43/10, we got ya bud

Posted by fatherofcricket on (September 22, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

whatever said or done, this would be a practice match-like for the both sides as they both have gone achieved big wins against ZIM, so probably they are into the 8's, SL will try this match with some part timers and probably the SA will do same. But anyhow the truth is And Asian country for sure gonna grab the trophy.

Posted by KunzMan on (September 22, 2012, 7:28 GMT)

@Ramansilva: So the most hyped team is top ranked in test cricket and consistently in top 3 in other forms. Nice hype I must say

Posted by   on (September 22, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

The only team that can keep SA from winning any cup is SA...They will be safe as long as they do not pree the "SELF DESTRUCT"..

Posted by damn1234 on (September 22, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

Which ACTUALLY means SA intimated by spin factor..

Posted by Supa_SAFFA on (September 22, 2012, 6:46 GMT)

The SA Vulcans were at their most majestic on the big screen playing test cricket in England. The ODI and T20 games in that series were just like low-budget sequels and the ICC T20 is the spoof that I'm not sure I want to watch but probably will anyway and end up regretting it.

Posted by Master_Mihil on (September 22, 2012, 5:47 GMT)

@SurlyCynic - epic bro! Jedi temple! Hilarious !!

Posted by Ramansilva on (September 22, 2012, 4:09 GMT)

We all know South Africa is the most hyped team but we also know they are eternal chodkers. They may not choke today but wait and see at SF time.

Posted by   on (September 22, 2012, 2:44 GMT)

You know what? AB he'e trying to hide behind the wall by calling his team the underdogs, well there should be a great match if all the philosophies of these come out

Posted by lananad on (September 22, 2012, 1:34 GMT)

SA will crush SL? I would like to ask how?? SA on paper look good but we know they are choakers in crunch games. Lets wait and see till the end of the tourney who will win.It will be PAK,IND or SL for sure...

Posted by Vikum72 on (September 22, 2012, 0:41 GMT)

I love the comparison; Vulcans & Evoks!!! (I think Andrew really wanted to say Vulcans & Humans but didn't want to offend SA) @ Hamish Williams: Mate take it easy and watch more Star Trek episodes. There's nothing mechanical or robotic about the Vulcans. They are supremely logical creatures who doesn't show emotion. I personally will be honored if some one compared me to a Vulcan. (Minus the pointy ears though!!!)

Posted by SurlyCynic on (September 22, 2012, 0:03 GMT)

The author describing this match as 'ewoks vs vulcans' is mixing Star Wars with Star Trek! Sacrilege! I'm off to my jedi temple to pray for his redemption.

Posted by shovwar on (September 21, 2012, 21:46 GMT)

@ Dk Ali.... Pak is really the only team to threat this SA team. But at the same time its a 50/50. Pak is the most inconsitent team. Pak bowling attack would be the hardest for SA i agree. But if the pak batsmen does not have their day which happens very often...Steyn n co can completely humiliate pakistan scorecard. So as a SA fan I would be thrilled to see a Pak vs SA final where i know it could be a 50/50. I wont be that scared of facing any other teams though. Pak does have a punch but at the same time SA can win even if they post low totals against Pak. Good Luck Brother.

Posted by   on (September 21, 2012, 20:07 GMT)

the only team , which can trouble sa to win this worldcup is pakistan...

Posted by baleshwar10 on (September 21, 2012, 19:02 GMT)


Posted by jaykalp on (September 21, 2012, 18:39 GMT)

I haven't selected Mendis in my Fantasy League Team...just because SA have players like Amla, Kallis and deVilliers upfront;and whatever little I have seen of Levi, he isn't bad at playing spin either!! Now, fetch me some Fantasy League points , SA!!

Posted by   on (September 21, 2012, 18:22 GMT)

Agree with Last-Ride. The perception that South Africa is weak against spin stems from the 90's and Cullinan and co. Kallis, Amla and AB are all great players of spin (and all use quite different techniques to counter it). These sorts of articles which hash up this stereotype that South Africans are mechanical robots, or bully-boys, with no creativity is an insult to a side which is full of creative expressive players - Levi, AB, Steyn, Peterson, etc.

Posted by lion55 on (September 21, 2012, 18:03 GMT)

south africa will crush sri lanka

Posted by BowledYa on (September 21, 2012, 17:52 GMT)

For SA it's not time yet for the "C" word as this match is meaningless, so I think they will win big. The real tournament starts with the elite 8 and that's when we will see who has what it takes. Until then...

Posted by peter4135 on (September 21, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

South Africa will bring Mendis back to reality...or so I hope.

Posted by Last_ride on (September 21, 2012, 16:33 GMT)

Of course no need to be intimidated we have the best player of spin at present in Amla.Followed by kallis.Then oh yes De villiers.Sometimes we find it funny how many times we prove we play spin well there are always doubts.May i remind everyone we have a very good record in India as well.Unlike England we arent going to be troubled.Come on South Africa...

Posted by   on (September 21, 2012, 15:07 GMT)

South africans have said the same stuff at a lot of events. Remains to be seen if they can back it up with their deeds....

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