Farhaan Behardien has been named South Africa's stand-in skipper for the first two Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) against Sri Lanka, while there are as many as six uncapped players in the 13-man squad, the Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced.
JJ Smuts, Theunis de Bruyn, Mangaliso Mosehle, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dane Paterson and Lungi Ngidi are the six players in the squad who are yet to make their T20I debut. Among them only Phehlukwayo has international experience, having represented South Africa in a One Day International (ODI) against Australia in October 2016.
After Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw, all-rounder David Wiese became the latest Proteas player to sign a Kolpak deal to play in county cricket, and hence, they have not been selected in the squad.
"We have decided to rest some of our key senior players for this series. This is the last chance we have to do this as the Momentum ODI series that follows is an important part of our build-up to the ICC Champions Trophy Tournament in England in the middle of the year," Linda Zondi, the CSA Selection Convener, was quoted in a report from ESPN Cricinfo.
"Those senior players who are involved in the Indian Premier League will be playing non-stop from now until the end of August with the tours coming up to New Zealand and England in addition to the ICC event. Farhaan was one of the standout players in our franchise T20 Challenge, being the second leading runs scorer behind Jon-Jon Smuts and having the best strike rate," Zondi added.
Zondi also revealed that AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel, who are recovering from injuries, could be make it to the squad for the third T20I. "Both AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel are due to resume playing at domestic level later this month and could come into contention for the third T20."
The first T20I will be played in Centurion on January 20. The second match is scheduled for January 22 in Johannesburg while Cape Town will host the third and final T20I on January 25. The T20I series will be followed by a five-match ODI series.
South Africa T20I squad: Farhaan Behardien (C), Heino Kuhn, David Miller, Mangaliso Mosehle, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Theunis de Bruyn, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Andile Phehlukwayo and Jon-Jon Smuts.