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Proteas power past Sri Lanka

Staff Writer

Free from the shackles of an expectant nation, the Proteas powered their way to a nine-wicket world cup win over Sri Lanka in their dead rubber encounter at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Friday.

Unbeaten half-centuries from captain Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla during a dominant 175-run partnership eased South Africa comfortably over the line with 76 balls remaining after a fantastic bowling effort led by player of the match Dwaine Pretorius saw Sri Lanka skittled for just 203 in 49.3 overs.

The chase began with Amla and Quinton de Kock both initially striking at more than a run a ball as they raced to 31 in the fifth over, before De Kock (15) was beaten by a peach of a yorker, as his stumps were rearranged by Sri Lankan legend Lasith Malinga.

This brought Du Plessis to the crease and the run rate initially slowed as they eased to 53 for one by the end of the 10 over powerplay.

The two then upped the rate slightly in the next 10, reaching the hundred run mark in the 19th over, while a single to Amla at the start of the 20th saw him reach his 50 off 57 balls.

Du Plessis then started to take charge and after reaching his 50 with a single at the start of the 28th over, he then hammered a six and a four a few balls later as he took his score passed Amla.

Having passed the 150 mark and cruising to victory, Amla was struck on the pads going for a sweep, missing a sharp turning delivery from Jeevan Mendis in the 31st over with the umpire giving him out on 68.

It looked like Amla was happy to go but Du Plessis seemed to talk him into reviewing and it proved correct as the ball pitched outside the line, with the decision then overturned.

There was no further drama as the Proteas cantered home in the 38th over, with Du Plessis easing a ball going down the leg side for four to end on 96 off 103 balls (10×4; 1×6), while Amla finished on 80 off 105 (5×4).

“It’s been a long time coming,” Du Plessis said of his side’s second win of the tournament.

“We finally did ourselves justice with the talent we have in the dressing room. But it feels bittersweet, it doesn’t feel like it means so much because it has come too late.

“We showed the basics of batting, we have not had guys score big runs and build partnerships by going all the way through the innings. It made a huge difference today.”

PRETORIUS SPARKLES

In the first innings, Pretorius welcomed his return to the South African World Cup fold with a sparkling performance to give the Proteas the edge at the halfway stage.

Pretorius had a below-par World Cup debut, with figures of 0-42 in seven overs, in the first match of the tournament against England and did not play in the following six matches, before being recalled to the starting line up and repaid his inclusion with superb figures of 3-25 in 10 overs, including two maidens.

The ever impressing Chris Morris backed Pretorius up well, picking up 3-46 in 9.3 overs while pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada looked much sharper than in his past few games, claiming 2-36 in his 10.

It was Rabada who got the match off to a cracking start as the first ball was a back of a length delivery on leg stump that caught opener Dimuth Karunaratne by surprise, catching the edge of the bat and flying to Du Plessis at second slip as he fell for a golden duck.

SCORING RATE SCREECHES TO A HALT

Opener Kusal Perera and No 3 Avishka Fernando then went on the counter-attack, plundering 67 runs from the next 58 balls as Sri Lanka threatened to tear the match away from the Proteas, only for Pretorius to intervene.

With the penultimate ball of the 10th over Pretorius had Perera chopping on and in his next over saw Fernando sky a length ball on off stump to Du Plessis at mid off, both falling for the innings top score of 30, as Sri Lanka slipped to 72 for three.

The two wickets saw the scoring rate screech to a halt as Sri Lanka took 10 overs to score 28 runs to finally bring up the hundred in the 22nd over, with Angelo Matthews (11) then becoming Morris first scalp, as he bottom-edged the ball onto his stumps a ball later.

Pretorius then returned and accounted for Kusal Mendis (23) who popped a catch to Morris at extra cover to leave Sri Lanka in all sorts of trouble at 111 for five at the start of the 28th over.

Dhananjaya de Silva (24), Jeevan Mendis (18), Thisara Perera (21) and Isuru Udana (17) all got into double figures, but none could kick on as they stumbled to 203 all out with just three balls left in their innings.

“All departments went wrong, especially the batting,” a rueful Karunaratne said. “We struggled to even get singles and that was key. You get put under pressure and start going for big shots.

“The wicket was a bit slow but they bowled really well. We could not build the same pressure.”

Sri Lanka must win their final two games and hope other results go their way if they are to reach the semi-finals.

“We have to win our matches against West Indies and India. We will keep our heads up and keep going. It is the only thing we can do.

 

SOUTH AFRICA: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis (capt), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Jean-Paul Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir

SRI LANKA: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Kusal Perera (wk), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Jeevan Mendis, Isuru Udana, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal

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