PREVIOUS RESULT: Super Eight
South Africa are arguably the strongest side in world cricket at the moment, having topped each of the world rankings this summer. The frame of their world-beating Test side returns here with a few limited-overs specialists drafted in to freshen up a strong-looking squad. AB de Villiers’ side would be a much shorter price if they had a world class spinner in their ranks who could take advantage of the turning Sri Lankan pitches.
TOP BATSMAN: Jacques Kallis (4.25) – It comes as a bit of a surprise that a 36-year-old all-rounder who is crucial in the longer forms of the game still plays this format. This anomaly is most certainly down to the success he has enjoyed in the IPL where he played a big role in taking the Kolkata Knight Riders to the 2012 title. Kallis will open in the batting in this tournament and he represents excellent value at 4.25.
TOP BOWLER: Johan Botha (6.50) – Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are obviously world class performers but I think Botha could provide incredible value in spin-friendly conditions. The off-spinner is a top Twenty20 bowler who cost the Rajasthan Royals a massive $950,000 in the 2011 auction, so he looks a great pick at 6.50.
KEY MAN/ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Richard Levi – The big-hitting opener is supposed to be South Africa’s equivalent of Chris Gayle or David Warner. If this proves to be the case, the Proteas could prove very hard to beat. However, nine runs in three innings in England recently, paired with some ugly dismissals, highlights the inconsistent nature of his batting.
DID YOU KNOW? In August this year South Africa became the first team to be ranked No.1 in all three formats of the game.
SQUAD LIST: AB de Villiers (capt & wk), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Johan Botha, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Justin Ontong, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
PREDICTED RESULT: Semi-final (3.50)
PREVIOUS RESULT: Semi-final
Expectations will be very high for the hosts but time really is running out for them, with batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene reaching the twilight of their careers. Home conditions will obviously be a huge advantage for Jayawardene’s side, with their raft of spin options just giving them the edge in my opinion.
TOP BATSMAN: Mahela Jayawardene (4.0) – Jayawardene is probably the best batsman in world cricket at the moment, his class demonstrated when he scored the most runs in this tournament two years ago. The skipper is elevated to opener in this format so he will have adequate opportunities to score big in this home tournament.
TOP BOWLER: Lasith Malinga (2.50) – The ‘Slinga’ is one of the most prolific wicket takers currently in the game, with his vicious in-swinging yorkers accounting for the majority of the world’s top batsmen. The 29-year-old is the only bowler to have claimed two World Cup hat-tricks and holds the record for the most wickets in an IPL season with 28 in 2011.
KEY MAN/ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Tillakaratne Dilshan – The former skipper was the top scorer in this tournament back in 2009, and while he is no longer at the top of his game, his input is still crucial for the hosts. Dilshan will open up with Jayawardene so if the pair can get Sri Lanka off to flying starts then they could prove far too strong on home soil.
DID YOU KNOW? Sri Lanka currently hold the record for the highest team score in a Twenty20 international - 260/6, set against Kenya in the 2007 tournament.
SQUAD LIST: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Akila Dhananjaya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Ajantha Mendis, Jeevan Mendis, Dilshan Munaweera, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne.
PREDICTED RESULT: Winner (5.75)
PREVIOUS RESULT: Group Stage
Zimbabwe are another side expected just to make up the numbers in their group, but should either of the other two teams start slowly they are very capable of causing an upset. Alan Butcher’s side beat South Africa in this format as recently as June of this year, so they come into this tournament full of confidence. They have plenty of experienced players in their squad and their contributions will be crucial if they are to upset the apple cart.
TOP BATSMAN: Brendan Taylor (3.0) – Wicket keeper/batsman Taylor is the class act of this Zimbabwe batting line-up with over 130 ODIs to his name at the tender age of 26. Taylor demonstrated his prodigious talents in his last international t20 innings, scoring 75 off just 52 balls against New Zealand at the start of this year.
TOP BOWLER: Ray Price (4.0) – With the other bowlers in the attack plagued by inconsistency, I will stick with seasoned campaigner Price to be their top bowler. It is very unlikely that Zimbabwe will proceed beyond the group stage, so opting for a steady slow left-armer seems the safest bet available.
KEY MAN/ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR: Hamilton Masakadza – If Zimbabwe are to cause an upset then they will have to catch their opponents cold with a strong start, so the pressure will be on opening batsman Masakadza. The 29-year-old is a consistent performer in this format, averaging a tick under 28 so Zimbabwe will be looking for him to anchor their innings in Sri Lanka.
DID YOU KNOW? Zimbabwe returned to Test cricket after a six-year exile on 4th August 2011, beating Bangladesh by 130 runs.
SQUAD LIST: Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), Elton Chigumbura, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Stuart Matsikenyeri, Christopher Mpofu, Forster Mutizwa, Richard Muzhange, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller.
PREDICTED RESULT: Group Stage (1.15)