Thursday, July 18, 2024

SL look to muffle big guns in SA batting; Namibia face Oman


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New York, June 2: Sri Lanka will rely on their exceptionally varied bowling attack to tame the unrestrained batting power of South Africa in their Group D T20 World Cup opener here on Monday.
They will be eager to get onto the points table at the earliest too as some tricky teams like Netherlands, Bangladesh and Nepal are clubbed with them in the group.South Africa have spread all their cards on the table as the team selection indicated the most likely route they would take in this ICC showpiece.A batting line-up consisting of captain Aiden Markram, wicketkeeper batter Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Tristan Stubbs could be a nightmare for any bowling attack.Klaasen and Stubbs have been in roaring form of late. In this World Cup cycle, the right-hander has averaged 41 and struck runs at 182.In the IPL 2024 too, Klaasen made 471 runs from 16 matches at a strike rate of 171 for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.Stubbs has been equally impressive for the Delhi Capitals, amassing 378 runs from 14 matches and he made them at a strike-rate of 190.Both these gifted power-strikers come in the middle-order when the spinners will be in operation, and to add to Lanka’s worries, they are phenomenal against the tweakers, especially Klaasen.
In the run-up to the World Cup, the 32-year-old from Transvaal has averaged 59 against spin and made runs at an eye-watering strike-rate of 191.It will certainly worry a set of Lankan spinners such as captain Wanindu Hasaranga (economy 7.42) and Maheesh Theekshana (6.71), both of whom had to battle injuries in the recent past.So, Sri Lanka, who have not reached the knockouts of a T20 WC after their triumph in 2014, will be eager to try a couple of overs from pacers Matheesha Pathirana and Dilshan Madhushanka in that phase when Klaasen and Stubbs are looking for acceleration.However, Lanka might take heart from the fact that the Proteas went down 0-3 to the West Indies in a recent T20I series at Kingston.Lanka will also hope that the New York pitch will continue to offer some help to the bowlers as it had happened in Saturday’s warm-up match between India and Bangladesh, where a few deliveries did not rise above the ankle and knee level.
Beyond that, the Lankans are also one of the teams that have played a good number of T20Is this year. In 2024, they have series wins over Zimbabwe and Afghanistan at home and Bangladesh away.
In fact, they have won six of the last nine T20Is.
But those external factors will not have much bearing on a fresh day and Lanka know that their batters too will have to come good against the African rival.
They have the experienced Angelo Mathews, the explosive Kusal Mendis and the rock-solid Dhananjaya de Silva to bank on while the former captain Dasun Shanaka can make a few quick runs down the order.
The SA attack does not have that much variety in their bowling unit as it largely revolves around Kagiso pacer Rabada and left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. (PTI)


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