T20 World Cup: Sri Lanka hope New York wicket can help them tame South Africa's batters

Proteas' fearsome line-up come into tournament off back of impressive Indian Premier League form

Sri Lanka captain Wanindu Hasaranga is the ICC's current top-ranked T20I all-rounder. PA
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Sri Lanka will hope for some help from the pitch as they seek to blunt a formidable South Africa batting line-up in their T20 World Cup opener on Monday.

The Lankans, aiming to reach their first T20 World Cup knockout phase since winning the trophy in 2014, face the Proteas in Group D at New York's Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

Coach Chris Silverwood will hope the low, slow pitch at the ground, with its drop-in wicket, will give some assistance to Sri Lanka's spinners.

In the opening game at the venue, a warm-up match between India and Bangladesh, some deliveries barely got above knee level.

The Proteas boast a formidable array of power hitters such as skipper Aiden Markram, wicketkeeper-batter Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Koch, David Miller and Tristan Stubbs.

In the recent Indian Premier League, Klassen made 471 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate of 171 for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Stubbs accumulated 378 runs from 14 matches at a strike rate of 190 for Delhi Capitals.

Both bring destructive hitting to the South Africans’ middle order and are very effective against spin.

That will be a concern for Sri Lanka’s spinners such as skipper Wanindu Hasaranga, the leading wicket-taker at the past two T20 World Cups, and Maheesh Theekshana, who have been struggling with injury of late.

But Sri Lanka must hope that their more varied attack, which also includes pacers Matheesha Pathirana and Dilshan Madushanka, will get more from the wicket than the Proteas.

The South Africans' attack leans heavily on express-paced Kagiso Rabada and left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.

Anrich Nortje is still searching for form after returning from a back injury and had a poor IPL, conceding more than 11 runs an over.

Sri Lanka also have some batting heavyweights of their own in the shape of the explosive Kusal Mendis and big-hitting Hasaranga, who is the ICC's top-ranked T20I all-rounder.

Hasaranga also played for the Desert Vipers in the UAE's ILT20 when they finished as runners-up to Gulf Giants in the inaugural tournament in 2023.

Sri Lanka can also call on the experience of Angelo Matthews, the solidity of Dhananjaya de Silva and late-order runs from former skipper Dasun Shanaka.

They will take heart, too, from the fact that the South Africans lost their recent T20I series in the West Indies 3-0.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have T20I series wins over Zimbabwe and Afghanistan at home and Bangladesh away in 2024. They have won six of their last nine T20 internationals.

South Africa, who also face Nepal, the Netherlands and Bangladesh in Group D, will hope to finally shake off their nearly-men tag at world cups.

The have lost five times in ICC World Cup semi-finals and twice in T20 World Cup semis.

Updated: June 02, 2024, 2:56 PM