Preview: Sri Lanka vs South Africa – ICC T20 World Cup 2024 Group D match

The tournament’s ‘group of death’ opens with a massive clash between former champions Sri Lanka and underachievers South Africa in New York.

South Africa's Gerald Coetzee celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Dunith Wellalage
South Africa are likely to go with a pace-heavy attack, including young right-arm pacer Gerald Coetzee [File: Altaf Qadri/AP]

Who: Sri Lanka vs South Africa
What: ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Group D match
When: Monday, June 3, 10:30am local time (14:30 GMT)
Where: Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, Long Island, New York

Follow Al Jazeera’s live coverage of the game here.

South Africa will have to adapt to the unknown conditions quickly in their T20 World Cup Group D opener against Sri Lanka in New York, but captain Aiden Markram is confident his side can end their luckless run at global events.

South Africa are ranked seventh in the ICC T20 team rankings but Markram believes his team can adjust to the conditions ahead of Monday’s fixture at the brand-new Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on Long Island.

“We do things together as a team early in the mornings so by now we are used to it,” Markram said in his pre-match news conference.

“If you look at it from a big-picture point of view, it is an exciting day, we didn’t think we would ever be playing a World Cup game in New York.

“It is a beautiful training facility and we will get a first look at the stadium and the pitch later [on Sunday] to assess things.”

Group D – or the so-called group of death – also includes Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Nepal.

South Africa have a well-known list of failures at 50-over and 20-over World Cups, where they have been favourites going in and found unusual ways to go out.

However, Markram feels that if they hit their straps, they are a match for anyone in the competition.

“I am feeling quietly confident, there are really good teams here but we feel if we find our form and play to the best of our ability we can beat anyone,” he said.

“We have put a lot of focus on ourselves and we will see where it gets us. But we are certainly here to lift the trophy.”

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Sri Lanka will rely on strong bowling lineup

Their opponents, Sri Lanka, is another team that has underachieved at World Cups in recent years.

The island nation won the T20 World Cup in 2014 but have since failed to reach the final but their captain Wanindu Hasaranga backs his team’s strong bowling attack to lead the way.

“Me and Maheesh Theekshana are in top five in the ICC rankings and we have good fast bowlers as well,” he pointed out ahead of the match.

The 26-year-old all-rounder believes his team’s early arrival in the United States has helped them prepare “really well”.

“We came to North Carolina two weeks earlier, had practice sessions there and we played two practice matches in Florida,” he said.

“The wicket’s bounce is uneven – it’s tennis ball-like bounce – and I think it will be helpful for our bowlers.”

Pitch and weather conditions

The fixture will be played on a drop-in pitch, which was used for the first time when India beat Bangladesh by 60 runs in a warm-up game on Saturday.

It was India’s seamers who did the damage with seven wickets between them, leaving a tricky selection poser for South Africa, who have brought three front-line spinners with them in their squad expecting slow conditions.

Markram said his team “will have to assess [the conditions] really quickly and then adapt plans”.

The match has a 10:30am (14:30 GMT) start time and it is unusual for a T20 clash to be played in the morning when conditions may be crisp.

Meanwhile, Hasaranga said the conditions in the US “are similar to Sri Lanka” and was confident of getting a favourable result at the new venue.

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Form

South Africa go into the tournament on the back of last month’s 3-0 series loss against co-hosts West Indies but will hope the recent run of matches in the region will help them in the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have won all of their last three T20 series – albeit they lost three out of eight matches – against Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.

South Africa: L L L L W

Sri Lanka: W L W L W

Head-to-head

South Africa hold the upper hand in their head-to-head record, having won 12 of their 17 fixtures. Sri Lanka have won five.

South Africa team news

The Proteas are likely to go with a pace-heavy XI, including right-armer Ottneil Baartman, but keep the experienced Keshav Maharaj as a spin option.

Squad: Aiden Markram (captain), Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Ryan Rickelton, Tristan Stubbs, Marco Jansen, Ottneil Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Keshav Maharaj, Bjorn Fortuin, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Bjorn Fortuin, Tabraiz Shamsi

Sri Lanka team news

The Lankan Lions will look to rely on the recent IPL experience of Matheesha Pathirana and Nuwan Thushara to assist the spin duo of Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana.

Squad: Wanindu Hasaranga, Charith Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Kamindu Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya De Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Thushara, Matheesha Pathirana, Dilshan Madushanka

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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies