Zaahier Adams in Chittagong
South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis is optimistic that Dale Steyn will be available for the World T20 Group 2 opener against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
Steyn bowled at South Africa’s training session early on Friday morning without much discomfort, and appeared to be over the hamstring strain that forced him off the field in the first warm-up match against Bangladesh A. It is the same injury that Steyn struggled with during South Africa’s Test series against Australia earlier this month.
Du Plessis is also feeling better about his own hamstring, although he is unlikely to risk playing is he not 100% fit. Both will have fitness sessions ahead of the game on Saturday morning.
"It's been an intense week for Dale and myself," Du Plessis said. "We want to make sure that we are ready for the game tomorrow. As it is right now, we are still assessing and we will both have a late fitness test tomorrow to see if we are ready. Dale had a bowl in the nets today and he came through alright so we will see how he goes tomorrow."
Even if Du Plessis does not get on to the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Saturday, the Proteas will have a capable leader in one-day captain AB de Villiers. The skipper doesn’t believe this will affect the team too much, and focused on his side gaining momentum from the outset.
"It's a World Cup with a short turnaround between matches so momentum is important and so too carrying it with you," he said. "We take a lot of confidence from those warm-up matches earlier this week. Sri Lanka will come in with confidence after winning the Asia Cup so the sort of form you bring into the tournament plays a key role."
The batsman that could benefit from Du Plessis’ injury is most likely his Titans teammate Farhaan Behardien. The right-hander endured a horrific time against the Sri Lankans in last year’s one-day series, averaging just one before being dropped. Behardien believes he is stronger for the experience, having come back to South Africa and honed his game against spin bowling by practicing the sweep and reverse sweep shots to help him rotate the strike better.
However, Sri Lanka’s captain Dinesh Chandimal issued a warning to the opposition yesterday, saying his team will once again rely on the dangerous spinners.
"The way our spinners bowled in the Asia Cup and [the fact that] the pitches will assist them [means] we have a good chance in the tournament," Chandimal said ahead of his side's opening game, against South Africa. "We are in a group with teams that are not comfortable at playing spin, so we have a good chance. However we will take it match by match.”
*The match starts at 11:30am SA time on Saturday, and will be televised live on SS2, SSHD and Sabc 3.