Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Sri Lanka aim to plug losing streak against dominant hosts

Match facts

January 22, 2017
Start time 1430 local (1230 GMT)

Big picture

A week ago, Sri Lanka were humiliated in Johannesburg, where they lost 16 wickets and succumbed to their biggest defeat of the three-Test series. It may be too soon for them to return but they will be pleasantly surprised at the transformation in conditions for limited-overs cricket. The green mamba will be tamed and should be far more batting-friendly, presenting the visitors a chance to exorcise the ghosts of the Test match. They need to take it because unless they win at the Wanderers, they will concede another cup before the final fixture. Considering that they regard the T20I series as their best chance of upsetting the hosts, this is their most important game of the tour.

With such pressure on them, Sri Lanka will need to be calmly led by an increasingly frustrated-looking Angelo Mathews, who needs support from his team as much as he needs to step up. Mathews has tasked himself with the new ball and the No.3 spot in the batting line-up, and needs to deliver.

South Africa do not seem to have the same problems. Rookie captain Farhaan Behardien took to the role well and, although it is difficult to analyse a team after a ten-over match, the new-look group has potential. In what was a hit-and-giggle jamboree, the batsmen relied on the experience of David Miller to build their total but all of the top six showed an ability to hit the ball hard and the bowling attack had plenty of young, exciting options. South Africa could have AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel back for the third match but if they win in Johannesburg, they will not need them to seal the series.

Form guide

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

In the spotlight

Of South Africa's new batsmen Theunis de Bruyn was the most impressive at SuperSport Park. He is a clean hitter of the ball and showed off some innovative strokeplay. With Rilee Rossouw having signed a Kolpak deal, there is a spot open in South Africa's limited-overs squads and de Bruyn can make a strong case to be considered depending on his performance in the next two matches. There is also the possibility of de Villiers' return for the final fixture and this is de Bruyn's chance to ensure he does not miss out if that happens.

Asela Gunaratne gave Sri Lanka their best chance of keeping South Africa quiet and did not concede a boundary in his two overs in the first match. He also struck a six-ball 10 in the chase and was probably the biggest positive for a beleaguered Sri Lankan outfit. Their T20 side is laden with allrounders and Gunaratne has shown the advantage that he can give. If he has a big game, Sri Lanka could lean on him to level the series.

Teams news

Johannesburg is not usually a venue for two specialist spinners so South Africa may bench Aaron Phangiso to give Dane Paterson a debut. Reeza Hendricks, the squad's reserve batsman, may have to wait his turn after the incumbents all impressed at SuperSport Park.

South Africa (probable) 1 Jon-Jon Smuts, 2 Heino Kuhn, 3 Theunis de Bruyn, 4 David Miller, 5 Farhaan Behardien (capt), 6 Mangaliso Mosehle (wk), 7 Wayne Parnell, 8 Andile Phehlukwayo, 9 Aaron Phangiso/Dane Paterson 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 Imran Tahir

Having played only one spinner in Centurion, Sri Lanka may look to go in with a similar make-up in their attack at the Wanderers. They have another fast-bowling option in left-armer Isuru Udana and could bring him into the mix on a surface that should suit him. They could also look at Danushka Gunathilaka to prop up a fragile batting order.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Niroshan Dickwella 2 Dhananjaya de Silva, 3 Angelo Mathews (capt), 4 Dinesh Chandimal (wk), 5 Thikshila de Silva, 6 Kusal Mendis 7 Seekkuge Prasanna, 8 Asela Gunaratne, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Nuwan Pradeep, 11 Suranga Lakmal

Pitch and conditions

The Wanderers' deck can be a batting paradise in limited-overs cricket and a run-fest can be expected if batsmen manage to cope with the bounce and carry. Without tempting fate, there is no rain forecast for Sunday afternoon but, as was evident from the first match, things change quickly on the Highveld.

Stats and trivia

  • Angelo Mathews is seven runs away from 1,000 T20 international runs. He will become the fourth Sri Lanka batsman, after Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, to reach the milestone.

  • Imran Tahir needs five more wickets to reach 50 T20 international scalps.


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Friday night's Man of the Match, Lungi Ngidi , is coming to terms with his new-found fame.

Dream start


Bowlers who have taken a wicket off their first ball in T20Is. Sandakan is the first Sri Lankan to achieve this