Sri Lanka’s hopes of making it to the World Cup semifinals turned gloomy in an otherwise sunny day as it went down to South Africa by nine wickets at the Emirates Riverside on Friday.
After falling prey to seamer Dwaine Pretorius' — who came in for Ngidi Lungi – three-wicket haul, Sri Lanka failed to restrict the opposition as an unbeaten 175-run stand between Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis secured South Africa’s second win of the competition and some pride.
In a venue hosting its first World Cup match, the modest target of 203 could have been tricky as Lasith Malinga removed Quinton de Kock early.
However, Amla (80) and du Plessis (96), playing with the luxury of chasing a small total, got into their groove and ensured an easy win for their team.
Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha’s fear of a South Africa “fightback” came true as the islanders lost its captain Dimuth Karunaratne for a duck. Kusal Perera (30) and Avishka Fernando (30) offered some stability as the Lankans scored better than run-a-ball (67) in the first 10 overs.
But Pretorius, featuring in his second World Cup game, removed both men to cripple the Lankans. He had ample support from Chris Morris (3-46) and Kagiso Rabada (2-36).
An unbeaten 85 against England had raised Angelo Mathews’ stocks, but he, too, failed, scoring just 11.
A late rally from Jeevan Mendis and Thisara Perera was not enough as the Proteas bowlers kept things tight to continue the side’s domination over the islanders. South Africa has won 16 of its last 18 meetings with Sri Lanka — including a 5-0 clean-sweep at home in March.
Sri Lanka’s defeat weakens its quest for a semifinal spot, handing over the advantage to England, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It will need to win its next two games against the West Indies and India and then pray to come on the right side of all the permutations and combinations.
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