The first of the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World cup was played between South Africa and Sri Lanka. The Proteas, who had never won an ICC knockout game, looked to break the jinx against Sri Lanka. The Lankans on the other hand were the more experienced side when it came to handling must win games .
Both the teams were in decent form and a close contest was certainly on the cards. Contrary to expectations, the match turned out to be a complete one-sider. The South Africans emerged victorious as they bowled Sri Lanka out for a paltry 133 and chased down the same in 18 overs for the loss of just 1 wicket. A brilliant bowling performance by South African spinners Imran Tahir and Jean-Paul Duminy destroyed the Sri Lankan batting line-up on a batsman-friendly track.
Sadly, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene’s world cup journey ends here as this was their last world cup tournament. And this was not a fitting farewell for two of Sri Lanka’s greatest batsmen. Such is the cruelty of this knockout format; a team that may have been doing well in all departments has one bad day on the field and its the end of road for them.
Dale Steyn sends openers packing after Sri Lanka elect to bat:
Considering the slightly overcast conditions and the high-scoring Sydney track, Angelo Mathews won the toss and elected to bat. The South African pace attack of Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott attacked upfront and one could clearly see the intensity in their eyes and their bowling. Abbott got the wicket of Kusal Perera (3) in the second over itself as he edged one to Quinton de Kock, the keeper, who completed a brilliant catch. Tilakaratne Dilshan (0) followed soon after he was caught by Faf du Plessis at 2nd slip off Dale Steyn’s bowling.
With the scoreboard reading 4-2 in 4.1 overs, Lahiru Thirimanne walked into the middle to join in-form batsman Kumar Sangakkara. The latter looked out of sorts and was unable to rotate the strike; it took him 15 balls to score his first run. Thirimanne decided to keep strike to himself and upped the Sri Lankan scoring rate.
Imran Tahir and JP Duminy destroy the Sri Lankan batting lineup:
After the mandatory powerplay, South African skipper AB de Villiers tossed the ball to Imran Tahir. The leg-spinner struck early as he dismissed Thirimanne caught and bowled, thus ending his stroke-filled innings of 41 from 48 balls. Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka’s top performer in knockout games too had a bad day with the bat as he managed to score just 4 runs off 16 balls. A mistimed pull shot found du Plessis at short mid-wicket, who took a simple catch.
Duminy hat-trick derails Sri Lanka:
Skipper Angelo Mathews hung around for a while along with Sangakkara before he was dismissed by Duminy for 19. Big-hitting all rounder Thisara Perera failed to deliver once again as he was sent back for a duck by Imran Tahir. The Sri Lankan batsmen were completely foxed by the South African spinning duo in an otherwise batting-friendly track in Sydney. Duminy claimed the wickets of Nuwan Kulasekara and T Kaushal in successive deliveries to complete his hat-trick, the second of this World cup.
Sangakkara was the lone warrior for the Sri Lankans and he fought on till the end. His uncharacteristic knock of 45 from 96 balls came to an end after he launched Morne Morkel’s short delivery straight to David Miller at deep point. Lasith Malinga was the last man to be dismissed and Sri Lanka were wiped out for 133. Imran Tahir was the pick of the South African bowlers as he ended with figures of 4-26 in 8.2 overs. Duminy picked up 3 wickets and Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kyle Abbott picked up 1 wicket apiece. The South African pace trio played an excellent hand to support Imran Tahir who was the chief destroyer.
Quinton de Kock off to a flyer:
Sri Lanka were never in the hunt once they were bowled out for such a small total. The South African opening pair of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock got off to a positive start as they dealt in boundaries. Amla (16) could not stay for long as he was dismissed caught by Lasith Malinga.
de Kock was joined by Faf du Plessis and they looked to finish things off quickly. de Kock continued to score at a fast pace while his batting partner rotated the strike. The young left-hander punished the Sri Lankan bowlers and got to his fifty in just 39 balls. The Sri Lankan bowlers hardly showed any resilience, which allowed the Proteas to sail comfortably to the semi-finals. The target was chased down in 18 overs and de Kock remained unbeaten on 78. Imran Tahir was adjudged the man of the match for his brilliant spell.
South Africa’s semi-final opponents:
As a spirited performance from Imran Tahir and co. sees South Africa through to the semi-finals, the question now remains- who will face the Proteas for a spot in the finals? That will be decided on Saturday, March 21 as New Zealand take on the West Indies. The winner of that match will play South Africa.
Sri Lanka 133/10 (Sangakkara 45, Thirimanne 41, Imran Tahir 4-26, JP Duminy 3-29) lost to South Africa (de Kock 78*, du Plessis 21 , Malinga 1-43) by 9 wickets