South Africa have something to smile about at last in the 2019 ICC World Cup with the Proteas registering a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Durham.
It was only the second win of the campaign for Faf du Plessis and his men and it delivered a hammer blow to Sri Lanka’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
South Africa’s victory was forged on the back of a strong bowling display that saw them bowl out the Lankans for just 203 runs. In response, the Proteas chased down the target with more than 12 overs to spare after unbeaten half-centuries from Hashim Amla (80) and du Plessis (96).
The duo forged South Africa’s highest partnership of the tournament (175 runs) in a controlled display of batting to clinch a resounding win.
With only a paltry total to defend, Sri Lanka were given a small opening with Lasith Malinga castling Quinton de Kock with a toe-crushing yorker. That was as good as it got with the ball for Sri Lanka with Amla and du Plessis chasing down the target with considerable ease.
Earlier, Sri Lanka got off to a horror start with the bat with Kagiso Rabada dismissing Dimuth Karunaratne off the very first delivery of the match.
Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando raised hopes with a 67-run stand for the second wicket but it was all downhill thereafter for the islanders. A three-wicket burst by pacer Dwaine Pretorius broke Sri Lanka’s top-order before Chris Morris removed the dangerous Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis.
When Andile Phehlukwayo dismissed Thisara Perera for 21, Sri Lanka had slid to 184-8 and there was no recovering from that.
Friday’s win is only the second in the tournament for South Africa with their other victory coming against Afghanistan.
Amla’s form arrives too late for South Africa
One of the many reasons for South Africa’s dismal 2019 World Cup campaign had been the form of Hashim Amla with the veteran struggling for runs at the top of the batting order.
Bar one half-century against the Kiwis, Amla had been a shadow of his former self in the games leading up to Friday’s clash with many fans even urging him to retire. For perhaps the first time in the tournament, the right-hander looked on top of his game from the very first ball with his class finally showing through.
However, that commanding display from Amla has come too late for both South Africa and the veteran with the side having already dropped out of the running for the semi-final.
The Proteas all-rounder was dropped from the playing XI after the tournament opener and did not feature at all until Friday’s clash against the Sri Lankans.
Pretorius wasted no time in creating an impact with his three-wicket haul coming at just the right time for South Africa. Perera and Fernando were threatening to go on the rampage after a solid stand before Pretorius was introduced into the attack and mayhem ensued.
The all-rounder induced mistakes from both Perera and Fernando before dismissing the highly capable Kusal Mendis as well to derail Sri Lanka’s innings massively.
His wickets set the tone for the rest of the game and Sri Lanka never recovered from those blows.
Faf du Plessis cracks South Africa’s highest score
The unbeaten innings of 96 from the South Africa skipper is now the highest score by any South African batsman at the 2019 World Cup.
The previous highest score had been a 68 by Quionton de Kock against Afghanistan. The lack of a big innings by any Proteas batsman explains why they have struggled so badly in the tournament.
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