Today’s T20 contest will be a decisive must win hurdle for Sri Lanka against a buoyed South Africa on their 1-up lead when the two sides meet at the R. Premadasa International Stadium. It will require an all out herculean effort from Dasun Shanaka and his team if Sri Lanka is to get the better of the high riding South Africans. Of course, it will need a highly disciplined effort from the Lankans where the responsibility will be very much on skipper Shanaka to lead from the front. In that reality scenario, certainly the skipper will have to deliver with the bat to his true potential and raise his game where his highest in both the ODIs and the T20 has been in the 30 margin. Similarly, the rest of the frontline batsmen will have to click. A good start is needed with a big score long overdue from opening batsman Avishka Fernando who has failed to deliver following his century in the first ODI.
As much, in the cause for concern form situation of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, given his pinch hitting ability, realistically persisting with the left-hander and placing faith in him to come out of it would be central to the selectors having hand picked him for the job. In that backdrop, pushing him to No 4 and having vice captain Dhananjaya de Silva at 3 would well relieve the pressure off Rajapaksa in the current impasse.
Meanwhile, a disciplined performance with the bat is long overdue from all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga. In a throwback where mainly Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva have held the batting together upfront with Chamika Karunaratne’s propping up consistency down the line in the tour exchanges so far it is vital for the rest to deliver where Dinesh Chandimal has raised solidifying hope upfront as an opener.
In the bowling, Sri Lanka has quite some potential wicket takers, but a better game plan is needed where the South Africans have revelled with big totals on tour in ideal batting conditions as demonstrated by the 163 for 5 in the opener.
In the final analysis, while South Africa is vulnerable on wet, turning wickets, their strong point is on placid batting wickets while the bowling is well equipped backed by tip top fielding that the Lankans will have to surmount by plugging the loopholes in vital areas if they are to stay on course in the series. Winning the toss will be decisive.