Sri Lanka v South Africa, 3rd Twenty20, Hambantota August 5, 2013

Sri Lanka look to avoid 0-3 drubbing

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Match facts

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Start time 1900 local (1330 GMT)

Big Picture

Sri Lanka's players might have often heard that the sport they play is a great leveller, but they might not have thought the highs and lows could come in such quick succession. Four nights after Sri Lanka had embarrassed South Africa 4-1, they are pondering their own humiliation. The world's top-ranked Twenty20 side is one game away from being whitewashed at home. If they fail on Tuesday, they will lose that ranking and slip to third, behind Pakistan and South Africa, who will rise from fifth.

The scripts for both games so far were remarkably similar, and make Sri Lanka's problem clear. South Africa batted first, stumbled early, then surged late. Sri Lanka also lost early wickets, but were kept in the hunt by Kumar Sangakkara. In the end he could not compensate for his team-mates' impotence and South Africa won handily. Sri Lanka's young batsmen have been under pressure throughout the tour, and have largely misfired. If they cannot muster a performance worthy of the faith afforded in them by the selectors, the team will have cause to embark on some soul searching.

Their opponents, meanwhile, have finally come to terms with the pace of the pitches in Sri Lanka and seem to also have managed to get a grip on Ajantha Mendis' variations. South Africa have been rejuvenated in the field under Faf du Plessis, who has had a knack for using his bowlers cleverly, and Imran Tahir's insertion has also given the attack a dimension that it lacked in the ODIs.

Though the word "revenge" has grown unfashionable in sport, South Africa will be out to make their tour's outlook a little more even, with a third commanding performance. The toss will be important again, but for the first time since arriving in Sri Lanka, they might even be favourites to win the match.

Form guide

(most recent first, last five completed matches)
Sri Lanka: LLWWW
South Africa: WWLWL

Players to watch

Thisara Perera was effective with both bat and ball in the ODI series, but has only bowled one over in the Twenty20 series, and has not been at his explosive best with the bat. There is talk that he is the most underutilised player in the Sri Lanka team, batting as low as he does, but if he is to move further up, he will have to play match-winning cameos with more consistency than he manages now.

David Miller has been among South Africa's more comfortable batsmen in Sri Lanka's conditions throughout the tour, and has not been too shy to attack the same spinners who wreaked havoc on the men around him. His 36 off 21 in the last match lifted South Africa to their first challenging total of the tour, and he may be key to their hopes again, if the misfiring top order falls cheaply.

Pitch and conditions

The Hambantota Stadium's evening gusts had a major effect on Sunday, with batsmen picking certain areas of the ground to hit to, and swing bowlers benefiting from some extra assistance. The wind has been a feature of the ground since its debut, as has the pitch that has proven difficult for batsmen. 
The weather is expected to be fine for the match.

Team news

It is difficult to predict whether Sri Lanka will stick with their plan to play only three senior batsmen. The prospect of being whitewashed might spur them to play their best XI, but Kusal Perera also showed signs of reclaiming some form in his 21 in the last match, when he was given wrongly given out. There is also a chance Lahiru Thirimanne is the man to make way.

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

South Africa will not want to meddle with their attack, and though Henry Davids and Quinton de Kock have not scored runs at the top of the order, they are likely to remain in the side as well.

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

Stats and trivia

  • Kumar Sangakkara is the leading run-scorer (98 runs) in this series, just as in the last one. Sri Lanka also have the leading wicket-taker, in Sachithra Senanayake (five wickets)
  • In six Twenty20s in Hambantota, the side batting first has lost only once - when South Africa played Zimbabwe in the last WorldTwenty20

    Quotes

    "The plan against their spinners was to be confident and try and unsettle them. Even though they might get wickets, we still tried to unsettle them. I think it's working. We played Mendis really well in the last two games."
    

Faf du Plessis on his team's increasing confidence against Sri Lanka's slow bowlers.

    "That they didn't do well against the spinners in the ODI and Ajantha is a very good bowler in T20 cricket. That's why he bowled his full quota."
    Dinesh Chandimal on why Ajantha Mendis bowled out in the second match, despite going for 39 and taking no wickets, yet Thisara Perera was unused.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ms2000 on August 6, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    I fully agree with Chris Silva. Something is radically wrong with the selctions and surprised with Chandimal, Jeewan and Thirimannn's inclusion in the team. They are no way worthy T209 players. Why on earth these selectors are runing our Cricket when there are so many talented youngsters. I always said over the last year that they should give Thissara at least one chance as an opener. Yes he comes even after Jeewan and Thirimanne who can do nothing. sorry state of affairs !

  • donbandarage on August 6, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    Why they put chandi to bat at no 2; if they wont some quick runs,they have to put as no 2 batsman, like, kulasekara or thisara. Candi can't hit fast to blast the blowers. We loss 2 games. I think our batting order is not perfect. Our boys can bat like Sanga.... All can bat... Will wish to win today game Sri Lankan cricket team.... Jaya Sri......

  • Prabhash1985 on August 6, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    Personally I feel Chandimal is a good captain, but he is having a tough time with batting. But I believe Mathews or Thisara cannot become threatening enough in a T20 match to SA squad. I think they should keep Mathews at sidelines, and bring Thisara in. Thisara is far more useful in T20 than Mathews given the current form, and the number of balls they require to hit a boundary. My suggestion is : 1. Dilshan/Kushal/Dimuth 2. Thisara 3. Chandi 4. Sanga 5. Mahela 6. Anjelo Perera/Kithruwan Withanage 7. Akila Dhananjaya 8. Rangana Herath 9. Sachithra Senanayaka 10. Lasith Malinga 11. Suranga Lakmal - Three spinners, and one all rounder, two front line fasth bowlers

  • TZ9383 on August 6, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    Please give fair chance to this youngsters Niroshan Dikkwella, Pabasara Waduge, Yashoda Lanka, Ashan Priyanjan, Kithruwa Vithanage , Maharoof, Sekkuge Prasanne

  • dummy4fb on August 6, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    first coment from me hai to espn k srilanka plz drop chandi and open the ings with mahela and thisara. dilshan in 4th or 5th postn

  • satisarnold on August 6, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    It is in SL's interest to play the best team available every time. Best means track record, ability, form and fit. Consistent with the merit principle. Experimenting with rotation has backfired on other teams. SL has young talent knocking on the door. When youngsters with little track record don't perform, other youngsters should be tried. The selection panel could employ a good number cruncher to frequently update performance data on track record and form. Various team combinations, batting orders, bowling strategy could be modelled and simulated to assist selection. If this is not being done, it is high time. Chandimal has not impressed as ODI captain. His body language at post match interviews is appalling. Tissera Perera is not being properly utilised in bowling or batting. Great talent underutilised. Chandimal appears to lack plan, purpose and method. Difficult to see him leading SL into the next T20 World Cup. Angelo has to do it if not Mahela.

  • dummy4fb on August 6, 2013, 10:26 GMT

    SL should drop Angelo as he is not performing at all. Dinesh is a big question mark and failed to understand why he has been selected as T20 captain. Don't we have any better players other than Dinesh to lead the side. Thirimanna's game tactics must be changed if he is going to play T20 as you can not play a test innings in T20........ Sanga , you are genius as always. Mahela, Dilshan, please save the last game.

  • LeoE on August 6, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    If the selectors are willing to gamble with all this rubbish like Kusal, Jeewan and Thirimanne etc why cant they play Thissara at the top and experiment with such match winners. If SL needs to win, they need to have batsmen who can clear the boundaries at least once every over. Can Kusal or Jeewan or Mahela or Dilshan do this ? Can Thirimanne even reach the boundary every over ? The only batter who can easily accomplish this is Thissara Perera. Never has he got an opportunity of batting with more than two overs left. Sometimes he gets only four or five balls to face. Its totally unfair. He is expected to thrash every ball without getting a feel of the wicket. Even Bradman would have failed. We can definitely win more T20 matches with Mahela and Sanga batting with Thissara, at the top with Dilshan and Mathews supporting in the middle. Kulasekera also needs to be promoted. Chandimal is a useless passenger.

  • dummy4fb on August 6, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Just cannot understand our great cricketers of the past who are now selectors doing with team selection. To begin with Chandimal is no way ready to be captain of the team let alone to play. He needs to be sent back to play for the A team and prove his worth. Why on earth are they selecting players who have nothing or little to offer instead of giving our youngsters who show potential. It is not a pleasure at all going to watch the or on TV. Poor team selection, poor performance in the middle. In a nutshell they have destroyed our team.

  • Sageleaf on August 6, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    I see lot of Indian fans are following SL cricket closely. I agree with SandipM for SL to have a total new team without senior players. Be innovative and try new things. Let the juniors carry the weight from now on. If Mathews, Chandimal, Jeevan and Kusal does not contribute, they should be dropped. SL has a weakness in letting players play without any contribution. This system should be stopped and players should value their place in the team. It's funny how a person says here SL should be placed above minnows when they have been in most of the tournament finals since 2007. What if Dale Steyn has played? He is a classy bowler but SL can play him and still win and they have won in the past. Remember highest partnership in test ...well Steyn was playing in that game too. Well if SA has mastered SL why were they beaten 4-1 in ODI? Chandimal has to understand one thing SA is a very professional side, so you have to work harder to win otherwise it will be another loss today.