Sri Lanka’s chances of making it to the World Cup semi-finals took a major hit on Friday as they went down by nine wickets against South Africa in Durham.
Sent in to bat, Sri Lanka produced a dismal batting show to manage a modest 203, a target which the Proteas overhauled with 76 balls in hand.
With just six points from seven games, Sri Lanka still have a mathematical chance to be in the semifinals. First, they need to win their last two games against already-eliminated West Indies (on July 1) and India (July 6) and then depend on favourable results from other remaining league stage games.
The win, however, came as a welcome relief for South Africa, who have endured a nightmarish World Cup campaign. The Proteas are already out of the tournament after registering just two wins out of their eight games.
Chasing the modest target, South Africa lost Quinton de Kock (15) at the score of 31 in the fifth over but thereafter Hashim Amla and skipper Faf du Plessis held fort and stitched an unbeaten 175-run stand to guide the Proteas home comfortably.
While Du Plessis remained unbeaten on 96 off 103 balls, hitting 10 boundaries and one six, Amla finished on 80 not-out off 105 balls with the help of five fours. Lasith Malinga (1/47) was the only successful bowler for Sri Lanka.
Earlier, the Proteas picked up wickets at regular intervals after the first 10 overs, never allowing the Sri Lankan middle-order to settle down.
Drafted into the playing eleven in place of Lungi Ngidi, pacer Dwaine Pretorius (3/25) justified his selection with a three-wicket haul. Chris Morris (3/46) and Kagiso Rabada (2/36) shared five wickets between them.
Sri Lanka had a horrible start as they lost skipper Dimuth Karunaratne in the first ball of the match, caught by his counterpart Du Plessis at second slip off Rabada.
Thereafter, Kusal Perera (30 off 34) and Avishka Fernando (30 off 29) took the counter-attacking approach and played fearlessly to stitch a 67-run stand off 58 balls before the two perished in quick succession.
Right-arm pacer Pretorius sent both the batsmen packing in consecutive overs as Sri Lanka slumped to 72/3 in 11.3 overs.
Angelo Mathews looked in no hurry and took 29 balls to score his 11 runs before he played on a Morris delivery in the 22nd over. It was a poor choice of shot from the experienced right-hander.
Kusal Mendis (23 off 51) had to dug deep for his runs before he became Pretorius’s third victim, spooning one to Morris at extra cover. Dhananjaya de Silva (24) , Jeeva Mendis (18) and Thisara Perera (21) all got starts but threw away their wickets when Sri Lanka needed them to carry on.
[Inputs from PTI]