Chittagong: Fresh from winning the Asia Cup, Sri Lanka would be keen to start their World T20 campaign on a positive note when they take on South Africa, at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, in Chittagong, on Saturday.
On paper, Sri Lanka look to be one of the most-balanced sides and are one of the favourites in the tournament. Not just because they will be playing in familiar conditions, but also because they are in roaring form. They didn’t lose a single match in the Asia Cup.
They have just the right mix of elegant and overtly-attacking batsmen, while there is a lot of variety in their bowling. With Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene playing in their final tournament in this format, the duo would be eager to make an impact.
If Sri Lanka has one concern, it is the form of Tillekaratne Dilshan. The aggressive manner in which Dilshan bats typically upsets the rhythm of bowlers, forcing them to change their lines and lengths. This allows the other batsmen to settle down easily and they don’t come under pressure right away to attack. The fact that Dilshan is not in great form will be cause of concern for captain Dinesh Chandimal. Under the scenario, much will depend on the other opener Kusal Perera to take Sri Lanka off to a flying start.
In the bowling department, Lasith Malinga will again be the key. The guile of Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senan-ayake adds to the variety of the attack.
While Sri Lanka are quietly confident, South Africa are not in such a comfortable position. The immediate concern for South Africa is the fitness of Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn, both of whom are dealing with hamstring injuries.
“It’s been a pretty intense week for Dale and I trying to make sure we are 100 per cent ready for the game tomorrow,” said Du Plessis on the eve of the game.
“As of now we are still assessing, we both will do a fitness test on Saturday to see where we are.”