Sri Lanka will look to grab their first win on their tour of South Africa when they face the Proteas at Centurion in a T20 International.
Following a 3-0 whitewash in the Test segment of their tour to South Africa, Sri Lanka will be keen to save a bit of face when they go up against a new-look South African T20 team.
Can the Angelo Matthews and his boys turn things around in the shortest format of the game or will an inexperienced Proteas side stick the boot into the beleaguered Asians? Let’s take a look:
South Africa vs Sri Lanka | Friday 20 January | SuperSport Park Centurion, Pretoria | 17:30
To Win Match
South Africa 37/100 | Tie 35/1 | Sri Lanka 22/10
The Proteas come into this match with a much-changed squad. The big guns have all been rested while the likes of Reeza Hendricks, Jon-Jon Smuts, Heino Kuhn, Mangaliso Mosehle and Lungi Ngidi are all rewarded with spots in the side following some decent domestic white-ball form.
Smuts is probably the most exciting new addition to the squad. The Warriors opener had an incredible season, leading his side to the final of the CSA T20 Slam – a match they’d go on to lose against the Titans. Smuts helped himself to 371 runs in his 11 innings at an average of 41.22 and a strike rate of 144.35.
Mosehle is another one I’m looking forward to seeing. The Duduza native enjoyed a stellar CSA T20 Slam for the Lions on his way to 277 runs in 11 innings. His average of 25.18 isn’t the greatest, however, he showed glimpses of a very strong batting skillset as well as some solid work behind the stumps – it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on if he gets into the side ahead of the other recognised wicketkeeper in the squad, Heino Kuhn.
The likes of Farhaan Behardien – who will captain the side – as well as David Miller, Aaron Phangiso and Imran Tahir, will need to take on leadership roles within the squad. Whether or not this will affect them on the field remains to be seen.
Having said that, all of these guys have been senior players in franchise cricket squads around the world, so they’ll understand their roles within the side. I – as I’m sure many South African cricket fans will agree – hope that they are able to handle the increased scrutiny they will be under playing international cricket.
This T20 series represents the ideal opportunity to bounce back against a significantly weakened South African side. They will be without the likes of Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers.
Angelo Matthews will be all too aware of this, knowing that his almost full strength squad should be more than a match for a very green South African side. The big man from Colombo will be keen to get his teeth into the South African attack following a disappointing personal showing in the recently concluded Test series.
Another guy who will be looking to put the Test segment of the tour behind him is Dinesh Chandimal. A vastly talented batsman, Chandimal was simply unable to put up any sort of meaningful resistance against the South African pace onslaught. That said, he is a world-class T20 player who has plied his trade internationally as well as in some of the top T20 leagues across the world.
It’ll be interesting to see how Graham Ford sets his side up at Centurion. Whether or not spin will play a big part in the match remains to be seen. There’ll be plenty of pace and bounce on offer for the quicks so expect to see guys like Isuru Udana, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Kulasekara play their part with the ball on Friday.
Verdict: Sri Lanka 22/10
The Sri Lankans should have the measure of a very inexperienced South African side. Unless someone like David Miller gets in early and blasts a big hundred, I simply don’t see South Africa winning. Back Sri Lanka to claim the win at tasty odds of 22/10.
Value Bet: Jon-Jon Smuts to top score for South Africa at 7/2
Smuts has been in sensational form of late and will relish playing on the Centurion surface. I’m quite confident that if he can get through the nervy first few balls, he’ll go on to score big. You won’t go broke backing the big man at 7/2 – get on!
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.