Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd T20I, Hambantota August 3, 2013

Sri Lanka's next generation need to stand up


Match facts

Sunday, August 04, 2013
Start time 1900 local (1330 GMT)

Big picture

Having been happy with their ODI wins and confident with their top ranking in Twenty20s, Sri Lanka have suddenly been given a rude start on this tour. In Faf du Plessis' words, South Africa put pressure on the hosts for a change, and found their batting order brittle.

Sri Lanka had not played their top XI, focusing instead on player development, but despite handing repeated chances to the young batsmen in their ranks, the next-generation are yet to produce a match-winning knock in the series. So more often than not when Sri Lanka's seniors fail to fire, a collapse ensues. But on Friday, Sri Lanka lost their way despite a fluent fifty from Kumar Sangakkara.

Sri Lanka are already eyeing the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next year, and Dinesh Chandimal said his side would continue to test their T20 bench strength in this series. If the young batsmen are batted high up in the order again, they cannot afford another poor collective showing.

Kusal Perera is under particular pressure, having averaged just over five in his last seven international innings. Having arrived in the international side in a whirlwind of hype, his failures continue to be considered kindly, but it will not be long before there are calls to send him back to domestic cricket so someone else can be tried.

As South Africa head to Hambantota in higher spirits than they have been for much of their time in the country, they will still be wary of their batsmen's inadequacies against spin. Sachithra Senanayake's first spell was clever and disciplined, but the visiting top order cannot say they played him with any sort of confidence. Though JP Duminy and David Miller seem to have come to grips with Ajantha Mendis' variations, the remaining batsmen appear no more clued-up on how to play him than they were at the beginning of the tour.

Form guide

(most recent first, last five completed matches)
Sri Lanka: LWWWL
South Africa: WLWLW

Players to watch

Dinesh Chandimal has not crossed fifty in any form of the game since March - though because he bats so low, he has not had the opportunity to build a long innings in many of those matches. Plenty of eyebrows were raised when he was given the T20 captaincy in February, given it is not a format he naturally excels at. If he wants to lead the side in the next World Twenty20, he must improve his output significantly.

For the first time on the tour, South Africa's spinners were not leagues behind their counterparts in the Sri Lanka side, and a major reason for this was the bowling of Imran Tahir. In what was his T20 international debut, Tahir was given far more respect by the Sri Lanka batsmen than they had afforded Robin Peterson and Aaron Phangiso, and was a genuine wicket-taking threat to boot. He did bowl the odd poor delivery - often a full toss on off stump - but Sri Lanka's relative reticence meant he was not punished for it. Having now seen Tahir in action, their battle with him in Hambantota should make for good viewing.

Pitch and conditions

Hambantota's surface has been among the most seam-friendly in the past, and South Africa's pace bowlers enjoyed the extra pace and bounce in the pitch when they played two matches there in last year's World Twenty20. The weather is likely to be fine on Sunday evening.

Teams news

With Sri Lanka suggesting they will continue to rest one of their three senior batsmen, it may be Tillakaratne Dilshan's turn to take a breather for the match. Mahela Jayawardene is then likely to open alongside Kusal Perera. Jeevan Mendis did not bowl or make any runs in Colombo and he may be swapped out for Nuwan Kulasekara on what is likely to be a better strip for seam bowlers. Sri Lanka may also consider leaving the steady Lahiru Thirimanne out for the potentially explosive Angelo Perera.

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

It is difficult to see South Africa change their attack, after Friday's win, but the batting order may be in for at least one change. The likeliest of these is perhaps the exit of Quinton de Kock, who has not made a significant score in three innings. It will mean AB de Villiers has to don the gloves, but they may be able to strengthen their batting.

South Africa (probable): 1. Henry Davids, 2. AB de Villiers (wk), 3. Faf du Plessis, 4. JP Duminy, 5. David Miller, 6. David Wiese, 7. Chris Morris/ Farhaan Behardien/ Quinton de Kock, 8. Wayne Parnell, 9. Morne Morkel, 10. Imran Tahir, 11. Lonwabo Tsotsobe


"There's pressure for cricketers every time they play. Only the players who have learnt to handle that pressure in school cricket and domestic cricket have come to the national team. I don't think we need to teach players anything different about handling pressure. I trust that they will handle it better in the next two games."
Dinesh Chandimal hopes Sri Lanka will not fold like they did in Colombo, in the games to come.

"The Sri Lankan spinners have three or four different variations each, and you've got to make a decision pretty quick about what you're going to counter that with. They are pretty consistent with their lines and lengths and they vary their pace as well. We're going to have to look at that."
JP Duminy, the Man-of-the-Match from the first game, speaks about the spin challenge for South Africa's batsmen.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on August 4, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    Glad Kusal in?

  • Altaf on August 4, 2013, 13:24 GMT

    Though recent success, SL is on verge of down-fall same as Aus facing recent time. When Jayawardane ages 36, Sangakkara reaches 36 three months later and so Dilshan 37 two months later, they have not found evener nearby strong to replace them. They may survive T20, but ODIs & Tests will be far away from them. They need to build stable team with current pool and build up their skills and experience in presence of trio.

  • Surath on August 4, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Dinesh Chandimals last 8 T20 innings with the deliveries he faced...

    10 (15), 12 (18), 7 (11), DNB, 5 (6), 5 (9), 9 (13), 8 (9)...

    I don't understand why he is even in the team let alone being the captain....

  • Dummy4 on August 4, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    Kusal was given too many chances, please send him back to domestic cricket and bring in another debutant who is eager and hungry to represent SL

  • Sudath on August 4, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    It was very sad that we lost 1st T20. Kusal Perera is in poor form. But important thing is not to forget that he went for runs. Not to keep his place in SL side. As I mentioned before Lahiru Thirimanne is not a one day or T20 player. He does not have a shots/power to score runs. This is very obvious. Please keep faith in Kusal. he will prove his place is how vital in SL team soon. He is an excellent prospect to come.Jeewan Mendis ...What a waste. Hey sectors..Give chances to young Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Perera. If you want to aim wold cup 2015. Give more chances to Kusal, Dimuth and Angelo Perera. Also not a bad experience try Thisara to open the innings. Try some thing new..

  • Isuru on August 4, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    Everyone talking about Sri Lanka's senior factor.This is my personal idea.

    Test-We should use all three seniors for our test squad. [1]Dilshan[2]Dimuth[3]Sanga[4]Mahela[5]Thirimanne[6]Mathews[7]Chandimal[8]Herath[9]Welagedara[10]Shaminda Eranga[11]Sachithra/Suranga Lakmal-rely on conditions

    ODI-We should use two seniors for our ODI squad. [1]Dilshan/Mahela-rely on form[2]Kusal[3]Thiri[4]Sanga[5]Chandi[6]Angelo Perera[7]Mathews[8]Thisara[9]Malinga[10]Sachithra[11]Kulasekara/Ajantha-rely on conditions.We should use Sachithra as our genuine spinner.Because he is a wonderful fielder than Herath.Also when 2015 Herath will become 40+.So it's a waste using Herath ahead of Sachithra.

    T20-We should use one senior for our t20 squad. [1]Kusal[2]Chandimal[3]Thirimanne[4]Angelo Perera[5]Sanga/Mahela/Dilshan[6]Mathews[7]Thisara[8]Malinga[9]Kulasekara[10]Sachithra[11]Ajantha/Shaminda-rely on conditions.It's a waste Chandi and Thiri use as a num 6,7 batsmen.Any suggestions?????

  • Dummy4 on August 4, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    I think Sri Lankan selectors got everything wrong when they selected Chandimal as T20 captain. Any player before becoming a captain should find a place in playing XI, but I don't think Chandimal can find a place in playing XI. To me, Mathews should be the captain for ODIs and T20s and not in Tests whereas a more established player (e.g., Mahela, Sanga, Thilan, etc.) should be captain in Tests. Regarding T20s selection, I never understood why and how they selected Jeevan Mendis. He never bowls (usually), but he is not a batsmen, then why not select a proper batsmen. Dilshan bowls better than him, so, then why we need him there? Its a terrible to see Thirimanne bats in T20s, forget about in ODis. If selector wants him to play, only format should be Tests, that's same to Chandimal too (at least for the moment).

  • Android on August 4, 2013, 8:07 GMT

    t20 format is not the best format to test young players. it is a mental battle and experianced players should play this format. when it comes to testing young players odi is the best format bcoz it gives you time to get the eye in and compose a long inning rather than trying to slog from the ball 1

  • Janaka on August 4, 2013, 8:00 GMT

    The best way Kusal can improve is, he should bat with someone like Sanga for a long time, and he must improve patience. He should try to build up an innings. Seniors must help him to get out of that black hole. That's what happened to Upul Tharanga. He failed several times, and he was under tremendous pressure, and he failed further more. He should have been given Test matches to improve. He is good in doing that, that is building a big innings. Then could have taken back. I think Test matches are the best way to regularize these shakey nature of players. Do something, this guy is valuable. But please rotate these new players, Dimuth, Kithruwan, they all are very valuable. They can form a team much better than today's, and hopefully we can win the world cup. We don't know. Everybody starts naively, but more experience they are, better they become. But I clearly state, you have to give chance to other players. Let the best "unknown" players rise. Test matches are important for progress.

  • Priyavrat on August 4, 2013, 7:56 GMT

    SL need to rest Jayawardene,Sangakara,Dilshan for some series & try out the youngsters like Angelo Perera,Kusal Perera,Paranavitana