South Africa reacted in an expected manner when they convincingly beat Sri Lanka in the five-match ODI series after the shock Test series defeat.
Now, Faf du Plessis’ side will look to keep their momentum and form intact and pile on the misery on the Lankans in the three-match T20I, beginning Tuesday, (March 19).
For the Proteas, the first of the three T20s, which will be played in Cape Town, serves as the last chance to finalise their side for the upcoming ICC World Cup, as a chunk of the regulars will be plying their trade in the glitzy Indian Premier League, beginning March 23.
“I think the squad is settled, but we still need to confirm the squad (for the World Cup). Maybe next month,” du Plessis, who was the second highest scorer for his side in the ODI series with 272 runs said after completing the series win.
South Africa have through the course of the last five games upped the ante with their batsmen and bowlers all hitting form at the right time.
The Proteas, however, will be without the services of the inform lot of du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi for the second and third T20 at the Centurion and in Johannesburg as they will all be afforded some rest before they join their respective IPL franchises.
The South African captain and Ngidi will join the defending IPL champions Chennai Super Kings while Quinton de Kock will turn out for Mumbai Indians and Rabada for the Delhi Capitals.
In their absence South Africa will be captained by JP Duminy, who has decided to call time on his ODI career post the World Cup, and will see a host of new players looking to further their case for a regular spot in the national set-up.
Ranked fifth in T20 cricket, South Africa not only have good form on their side but also the benefit of playing at home which they are good at using to their advantage.
Visitors Sri Lanka at the moment are a very demoralised bunch, as wickets and runs both seem hard to come by for the injury plagued side.
The visitors have recalled Suranga Lakmal after a long absence from the limited overs side, while Jeffrey Vandersay, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Asitha Fernando are among the other additions.
The likes of Angelo Perera, Avishka Fernando and Priyamal Perera have been included, while Oshada Fernando has not been considered despite his good performances in the Tests.
Along with Fernando, Upul Tharanga, Vishwa Fernando and coach Chandika Hathrusingha will be at home chalking out World Cup plans.
Led by Lasith Malinga and coached by Steve Rixon, the Lankans are approaching the series with caution as a whole host of changes have been made with an eye on the World Cup.
“I feel that finally the batters have realized what they need to do. Isuru and Kusal Mendis did well. We have a local tournament ahead of the World Cup and that will be important. But before that, we are looking forward to do our best in the T20Is,” Malinga had said after defeat in the fifth ODI.
Sri Lanka are ranked ninth, below Afghanistan, and are in dire need of some good fortune with the bat and the ball.
The experienced heads in Malinga, Mendis, Angelo Perera and Thisara Perera will be expected to play a key role as they look to end what has been a tough tour on a high.
South Africa Squad: (for 1st T20I): Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.
South Africa Squad: (for 2nd and 3rd T20Is): JP Duminy (capt), Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Sinethemba Qeshile, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.
Sri Lanka T20I squad: Lasith Malinga (c) Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Kamindu Mendis, Priyamal Perera, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lakshan Sandakan.