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Sri Lanka seek batting revival to turn series around

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Theekshana and Rajapaksa surprise picks in SL’s World Cup squad

SA leave out du Plessis, Tahir and Morris for World Cup

Before this series, Keshav Maharaj had not played a single T20 international. On Friday, having been named captain of the side (he had led them well in the ODIs also), he picked up a wicket with his first delivery, made excellent DRS calls, and was tenacious with the ball, conceding only 19 from his four overs. He has made it into South Africa’s World Cup squad, and although history suggests he only got into the XI on Friday because of his leadership, another good bowling performance or two could convince the selectors he deserves to be in the XI even when Temba Bavuma comes back and takes the reins.Pitch and conditionsExpect a spinning pitch as usual. With showers frequently rolling through Colombo in September, rain interruptions are always a possibility.Team newsSri Lanka have not confirmed whether Kusal Perera is quite ready to join the XI (he has just recovered from Covid), though he has been training with the team for the better part of a week. If he does get into the XI, he will likely replace the misfiring Bhanuka Rajapaksa, but may open the batting, with Chandimal moving down to No. 3. Sri Lanka will probably want another look at Maheesh Theekshana too, now that he seems likely to be part of their World Cup squad. It’s possible they will bring in the left-arm spin of Praveen Jayawickrama for Akila Dananjaya, too.Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Avishka Fernando, 2 Kusal Perera (wk), 3 Dinesh Chandimal, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt.), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 10 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Akila Dananjaya/Praveen Jayawickrama, 11 Maheesh TheekshanaSouth Africa may want another look at Klaasen, so they may keep him in ahead of Rassie van der Dussen. Bjorn Fortuin may get another game to show what he has got as well, even if that leaves South Africa a little short of batting.South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Reeza Hendricks, 3 Aiden Markram, 4 Heinrich Klaasen, 5 David Miller, 6 Dwaine Pretorius, 7 Keshav Maharaj (capt.), 8 Kagiso Rabada, 9 Bjorn Fortuin, 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Tabraiz ShamsiStats and trivia Sri Lanka have a truly awful record at Khettarama – the venue in which they play the most T20 internationals. They have won only six matches to the 18 they have lost there. Tabraiz Shamsi needs four wickets to get to 50 in T20 internationals. Twenty-five of those wickets have come this year, in which he is easily the leading T20I wicket-taker. Including the ODIs, no team has won chasing during the course of this tour.Sri LankaSouth AfricaSri Lanka vs South AfricaSouth Africa in Sri Lanka

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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