After a T20I series earlier in the year, Sri Lanka and South Africa meet as familiar foes in Sharjah, where spin could reign supreme.
Travelling to Sri Lanka in September, South Africa enjoyed conditions in Colombo, emphatically winning all three matches. Defending 163 in the first match, Temba Bavuma’s men went on to win the next two matches by nine and ten wickets respectively.
Wedged in a tricky Group 1, the two teams met similar fates at the hands of Australia, but have a Super 12 victory each thus far, with South Africa brushing aside the West Indies and Sri Lanka overcoming Bangladesh.
Having entered the tournament through Group A of the First Round, Sri Lanka have proved many of their doubters wrong, with their defeat to Australia the only blemish across five matches. The team under Dasun Shanaka and Mickey Arthur have continuity, playing in a flowing fashion, a far cry from the series leading up to the tournament.
On the other side, South Africa, in spite of all the headlines off the field, mustered a winning performance on Tuesday, chasing a target of 144 set by the defending champions. Reeza Hendricks opened the innings with a confident 39 (30) coming in for the absent Quinton de Kock, with Rassie van der Dussen (43* from 51 balls) and Aiden Markram (51* from 26 balls) making light work of the task.
Needing 22 runs from nine balls, Kagiso Rabada and David Miller soaked in the pressure to strike three sixes and a boundary to chase 143 with four wickets and one ball to spare.
It marked a dramatic turnaround for South Africa, who had been pegged back early by a double-strike from Dushmantha Chameera, and then at the death by a hat-trick from Wanindu Hasaranga.
On a Sharjah surface where batters of both teams struggled, Pathum Nissanka held firm with a stroke-filled 72 off 58 to help Sri Lanka post 142. However, it proved insufficient as the Islanders slipped to their second loss in three Super 12 games.
South Africa’s chase got off to a rocky start. Quinton de Kock, returning for this game, spooned a catch back to Chameera in the very first over, but the bowler had overstepped.
Chameera, though, was soon among the wickets, bowling with good pace. Reeza Hendricks burnt a review in challenging an LBW decision. De Kock was then surprised by a short ball, with Chameera himself calling for the top-edge and doing well to hold on.