Sri Lanka is right now the highest ranked team in international T20s as opposed to South Africa, which is ranked in the 5th spot. Sri Lanka also enjoys a better record in the tournament having gone up to the finals twice – in 2009 and in 2012, when it hosted the tournament. Between the two sides, current form also favors the islanders. Sri Lanka has won its last T20 series against Bangladesh in Bangladesh, while South Africa has a lost home T20 series to Australia. Sri Lanka has also played in Bangladesh for a long time of late with a full series of tests, one dayers and T20s and then taken part in the Asia Cup and won the same. So they are pretty well acclimatized with the conditions on offer. South Africa’s preparations have been hampered on the other hand by a rain affected series against Australia, which it lost as well. So it will be looking to the practice matches to gain some momentum ahead of the main tournament.
Group: Both Sri Lanka and South Africa are in the same group. The other teams in this group are England and New Zealand.
Batting: The South African batting will be led by Faf du Plessis, who will lead the side as well. There are 3 classy batsmen in Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy who will be backed by big hitters Farhaan Behardien and David Miller. Allrounder Albie Morkel and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock will be crucial to South Africa’s eventual performance as well.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, has a world class batting line up with the likes of skipper Dinesh Chandimal, Tillekratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara along with newcomer Kusal Perera.Allrounder Angelo Mathews will play an important role in this regard as well.
Bowling: South Africa has a really strong pace attack led by the best fast bowler of the world Dale Steyn and his partner-in-crime Morne Morkel. Lonwabo Tsotsobe, newbie Beuran Hendricks and allrounder Wayne Parnell complete the rest of the attack. The absence of Ryan McLaren in the team is a bit baffling considering he has been one of the higher wicket takers in international short form cricket during the last season. He is also capable with the bat. The spin bowling for the Proteas will be led by leggie Imran Tahir and he will be supported by the accurate left armer Aaron Phangiso.
Sri Lanka has a pretty strong seam attack as well with the likes of Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and Suranga Lakmal being backed up by allrounder Thisara Perera. The spin attack is perhaps the best in the tournament with Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath along with Sachithra Senanayake and leg spinner Seekkuge Prasanna.
Possible first team: South Africa is more likely to go in with the following players for its first eleven: de Kock, Amla, du Plessis, de Villiers, Duminy, Miller, A. Morkel, Parnell, Tahir, Steyn, M. Morkel, Tsotsobe/Phangiso.
The first team for Sri Lanka could look like this: K. Perera, Dilshan, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Chandimal, Mathews, T. Perera, Kulasekara, Malinga, Mendis/Senanayake, Herath.
Problems: Apart from the issues stated above, playing in the sub-continental conditions and adapting to the turn and lack of pace and bounce will be the major issue with South Africa. Plus, there are some issues with selection as well – the exclusion of Robin Peterson is a bit surprising. For Sri Lanka, the recent contracts dispute will be a major drawback and the team will be under some pressure to perform well enough and justify its demands for additional income.