After toppling the visitors with spin in ODIs, Shanaka's men will look for more of the same in friendly conditions
A T20 World Cup is around the corner. For Sri Lanka, it begins with the qualifiers, which kick off approximately six weeks from now. For South Africa, who go straight through to the main draw, the World Cup starts about a week later. Either way, this is the lead-in - the phase in which teams look to tighten up their combinations, get key players into form, and battle-test their match-ups and strategies. South Africa's eight T20I wins to their seven losses this year suggests they are closer figuring out a good game plan than Sri Lanka, who have lost six and won only three (two of those wins were against a severely depleted second-string India side).
South Africa are not only fresh from a series win against Ireland (whom Sri Lanka will face in the qualifiers), but had even defeated West Indies in the Caribbean in June and July. In Aiden Markram and David Miller, they have batters that have scored heavily in the format in 2021; in Tabraiz Shamsi they have a wristspinner who has claimed 24 wickets at an economy rate of 5.32. No other bowler has more wickets than Shamsi in T20Is in 2021.
Sri Lanka will feel they have some momentum after their ODI victory, but their T20I ranking of ninth is deserved - this is the format in which they have struggled most over the past few years. They will hope that the confidence gained from two consecutive series victories in a row (the first being that T20I series win over a depleted India), and familiarity with the conditions - which again are expected to be spin-friendly - can help elevate them to South Africa's level.