Venue: R.Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Date: Friday, 10th September
BetXChange Odds for 1st T20 win:
- Sri Lanka – 1.30
- South Africa – 0.60
South Africa goes into this T20 series with their morale dented after they lost 2-1 in the ODIs and coach Mark Boucher and his men will be eager to get it right in the shortest format as the put the finishing touches for the World Cup next month.
This is the final series for the Proteas before they travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman for the T20 World Cup where they will be under pressure to finally land a major trophy after many years of disappointment.
For the Proteas to achieve the morale boosting win in this T20 series, they will have to play better much against spin as they were mesmerized by the Sri Lankan spinners during the ODI series on conditions that favoured slow bowling.
Fr Sri Lanka, who will have to qualify for the T20 World Cup through the qualifiers about six weeks from now, they will be looking to continue where they left off during the ODI series where they won 2-1 during the week.
Their spirits will be sky high following the ODI series win but reality is that Sri Lanka have struggled in T20s and that is further illustrated by the fact that they are ranked a lowly ninth going into the World Cup qualifiers against Ireland.
They will be hoping that that the confidence they gained from two consecutive T20 series victories in a row over a depleted India and familiarity with home the condition, which are expected to be spin-friendly, will put them in good stead.
They will also be hoping that their mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana, who bamboozled South Africa with a Sri Lankan record four wickets on ODI debut, will be once again be at his best on the pitch that is expected to turn.
Kusal Perera is expected to return to the Sri Lanka XI after regaining match fitness following his battle with Covid-19 while Kamindu Mendis may be put at No. 3 given his excellent T20 domestic form recently.
The Proteas go into this T20 series on the back of recent successes win over the highly fancied West Indies in their own backyard in the Caribbean during June and July and over unpredictable against Ireland in Malahide.
Over the past few months, batters like Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram and David Miller have scored handsomely for the Proteas and with ball in hand coach Mark Boucher will rely on the brilliance of top ranked spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.
The tricky wristspinner has claimed 24 wickets at an economy rate of 5.32 and no other bowler taken more wickets than him in T20s in this year.
Good news for South African stand-in captain Keshav Maharaj is that the big hitting David Miller has recovered from a hamstring strain and is available for selection but fast bowler Lungi Ngidi is not available as he has flown straight IPL in the UAE.
On what is expected to be a turning track, spinners are once again expected to be in the money. For Sri Lanka, focus will be on Maheesh Theekshana who sparkled in the last ODI win while Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj will lead the line for South Africa.