Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st Twenty20, Colombo August 1, 2013

South Africa hope change of format brings change of form


Match facts

Friday, August 02, 2013
Start time 1900 local (1330 GMT)

Big Picture

Before South Africa can even allow the lessons of a deflating ODI series loss to sink in, twelve of their one-day squad must now gather themselves for battle in a different format. The teams will play three matches over the next five days, beginning with a game at the R Premadasa Stadium, which has not only been the scene of two mammoth South Africa defeats in the past two weeks, but also a venue that only brought them sorrow in the World Twenty20 last year.

Worse for the visitors, Twenty20 has become Sri Lanka's strongest suit. They have been the top-ranked side in the format since October last year, and have arrived at a short-form formula few teams have successfully countered. The diversity in their attack is Sri Lanka's greatest forte, but the top order packs a punch as well, and with two bona fide Twenty20 finishers in addition to Nuwan Kulasekara, lower down, they are not far from being a complete Twenty20 side.

Chief among South Africa's concerns has been their batsmen's inability to handle Sri Lanka's spinners, and they will hope the format's demand for aggression will help them shake their funk against the slow bowlers. Ajantha Mendis was their primary tormentor in the ODIs, and though Mendis' record has worsened in the longer formats overall, his Twenty20 statistics remain as daunting as they have ever been. Teams have unsettled Mendis by attacking him early in his spells in the past, but in order for South Africa to be in a position to do that, they must ensure the top order provides a more stable foundation than they have managed so far in the tour.

Form guide

Sri Lanka WWWLW (most recent first, last five completed matches)
South Africa LWLWL

Players to watch

Mahela Jayawardene could not make a significant score in the ODIs, and will want to emphasise his continuing importance to the side as the two other seniors have already done during the tour. He has been Sri Lanka's best Twenty20 batsmen in the past, but his best innings have come when he has opened, which he may not do on Friday. He did not play in the fifth ODI and perhaps that short break will assist a return to form.

AB de Villiers had been woeful with the bat in his first four innings in Sri Lanka, but indicated he had finally come to grips with the conditions with a run-a-ball 51 in the last match. He has been adamant that he is hitting the ball well in training, but may need to shoulder greater run-making responsibility as the most experienced batsman in the Twenty20 side. He will also be rid of the captaincy that appears to have worn him thin in the last fortnight, and perhaps a less burdened mind can spark the sort of innings his side expects from him.

Team news

Sri Lanka may think about batting Kusal Perera in the middle order, given that is where he has prospered in domestic cricket, but will also be tempted to try him at opener once more. Kulasekara is available for the first time in three weeks, but whether he plays or not will be determined by whether his batting now is deemed good enough for him to replace a batsman. Lahiru Thirimanne will likely make way if so.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1. Kusal Perera, 2. Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3. Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4. Mahela Jayawardene, 5. Dinesh Chandimal (capt), 6. Angelo Mathews, 7. Lahiru Thirimanne/Nuwan Kulasekara, 8. Thisara Perera, 9. Sachithra Senanayake, 10. Ajantha Mendis, 11. Lasith Malinga

De Villers will likely open the innings alongside Henry Davids, as he did in South Africa's last Twenty20 against Pakistan. Imran Tahir is likely to play as well, and will provide the attacking spin option South Africa have lacked in the ODIs, but the pace bowling spots are less secure, with at least four frontline fast bowlers vying for spots there.

South Africa (probable): 1. AB de Villiers (wk), 2. Henry Davids, 3. Faf du Plessis (capt), 4. JP Duminy, 5. David Miller, 6. Ryan McLaren, 7. Chris Morris, 8. Wayne Parnell/Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 10. Rory Kleinveldt/Morne Morkel, 11. Imran Tahir

Pitch and conditions

Slow surfaces have compounded South Africa's woes, and they should not expect respite from the Premadasa curators for this match. Thunderstorms continue to blow through Colombo, but the rain expected for Friday is forecast to ease well before the match is set to begin.

Stats and trivia

  • If Sri Lanka defeat South Africa, they will have the best win-loss ratio in Twenty20 internationals, edging out Pakistan, who have won 1.68 games for each of their losses
  • South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 32 runs, the last time the teams met, during the World Twenty20. The match had been reduced to seven overs a side, due to rain.


"They've got some great Twenty20 players coming in; Wayne Parnell, Imran Tahir, Henry Davids. We haven't played a lot of these guys before, so we can't take this side lightly - they are still very good."
Dinesh Chandimal is wary, despite Sri Lanka's ODI dominance

"It's great to have Imran with us because he gets wickets. That's something that the Sri Lankan spinners have done very well, they're always picking up wickets. It's nice to have one of our own to do that and I'll be using him to attack."
Faf du Plessis looks forward to having Tahir in the side

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on August 2, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    Good luck World number 1. Hope SA would give a good fight. Even you loose by 3-0, SA you don't take it much serious coz its better than 5-0 win against Zim.

  • Ankit on August 2, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    All of us needs to understand one thing very clearly. Whether its Srilanka in T-20, India in ODI and S.Africa in Test. They all deserve their places because they played to their potential in their format. S.A might have performed better and best if last two weeks would have been of Test. So there should be no comparison. Also S.A is not having their three premium players. So those who are saying its just freaky luck to get on top, i don;t agree and buy your point either. Luck can help once, twice but not thrice. From a true cricket fan, who love to see great matches all around.

  • SURIA on August 2, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    South Africa are favourites, hopefully they can dominate.

  • Suranga on August 2, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Reminding this is gonna be Kushals last series to shine, I ll put him todays team.

    1.Dilshan 2. Kushal 3. Sanga 4. Mahela 5. Mathews 6. Angelo Perera 7. Thisara Perera 8. Chandimal 9. Kulasekara/ Senanayake 10. Malinga 11. Mendis

    & chandimal is in, Just bcoz of he is captain. That place is a such a waste :(

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    SA cannot play spin period! I also believe Tahir is not in the same class as the SL spinners. I think we are stairing down the barrel here. I hope not. I'm also hoping Parnell gets an extended run through the 3 match series.

  • Nilantha on August 2, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    Wow, I know where most of the people asking why SL is #1 in t20,but surely even they are clever enough to understand the concept of rankings?which is better a batsmen who consistently scores big scores across a season or one who scores a triple hundred once in twenty innings?#gofigure...

  • Maduranga on August 2, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    @SeanB Thats interesting... If every thing should start fresh from the beginning of the world cup, Whats the point of playing and winning whole lot of other matches???? Yes we got beaten in the world t20 final, but never since... so even if the rankings start from their.. still SRI LANKA IS THE NO 1 T20 TEAM IN THE WORLD mate

  • javed on August 2, 2013, 8:59 GMT

    I am a big fan of SA cricket when its about individual players , that doesn't mean sa team as a whole is not worthy..what i am trying to say is, team is good use them well . u need to understand importance of faf and miller . any game any ground they can win you matches . i have hardly seen any one hit ball as sweetly as devillers .start with davis he is fearless and faf at other end . dont worry faf knows how to play in sub continent he was under MSD . No one other than Miller deserves to get no 3 position trust me on this and plz AB come at no 4 you have duminy and mclaren to finish things in style and i believe parnell is very good alrounder along with mclaren to have .morne is excellent bowler . tsotsobe has been good .and trust me you got to have imran in sl against sl and then have morris in side he can be good at the death bowling and also i have seen him hit big . every thing seems in place now only thing needed is self belief so remember u are the best .

  • santhosh on August 2, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    faf is an ideal t20 player, i hope he plays up to his potential..where si johan botha am sure he is better than Tahir and also he is an alrounder...SA having the reserves but not utilising it properly....i think this current SA team will play better in of luck SA..

  • John on August 2, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    Even after the WC, Sri lanka have won all T20 matches they played. So no matter how you wanna do it, Sri Lanka will still be the Rank No. 1 team.