South Africa is now ranked eighth on the points table (Image Credit: Getty)
Faf du Plessis’s 34th fifty and Hashim Amla’s blazing 39th half-century, combined with the brilliance of Dwaine Pretorius helped South Africa to get better of Sri Lanka by 9 wickets in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street on Friday. With this loss, Sri Lanka are virtually out of the quadrennial tournament and their qualification for the semi-finals is in the hands of other teams’ result.
On a batting-friendly wicket, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis asked the opposition to have a bat. Interestingly, in the first power play, Sri Lanka had the highest scoring rate but have been guilty of not being able to capitalize on their starts. On the day, Sri Lanka had 67 for 2 on the board after the first ten with the very impressive Avishka Fernando getting dismissed in the tenth over. However, in the next 26 overs, not only the runs dried up but Sri Lanka ended up losing four more without on the board.
Fernando's dismissal was just the boost South Africa needed. Five runs later, Kusal Perera was bowled by Pretorius while Angelo Mathews failed to keep a Chris Morris out and lost his poles after labouring his way to 11 off 29.
Kusal Mendis's stay too was excruciating but the batsman did grind it out by playing 51 deliveries. While there were only two boundaries, and he scored at just 45, Sri Lanka needed someone to hold one end up.
The sustained pressure meant there was no Thisara Perera special as the side continued to huff and puff towards 200. In the end, Sri Lanka managed mere 203 runs on the board and didn’t manage to play their quota of 50 overs.
In response, South Africa got off to a decent start courtesy of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock’s 31-run stand off 29 deliveries. Just when De Kock was starting to look good, Lasith Malinga churned out a vicious yorker and cut short the southpaw’s stay. The required run-rate was never a challenge and Faf du Plessis along with Amla didn’t play any shot out of anger. Rather, they put their heads down and took the game out of Lanka’s radar.
Amla got to his second fifty of the tournament off 56 deliveries. Du Plessis also racked up a well-crafted half-century off 70 balls to show what he is capable of. They brought up their century stand off 122 balls. It was just a matter of time before the curtains came down on the proceedings. While Amla stayed unbeaten in 80 from 105, Du Plessis remained not on 92 off 102, just 8 short of what could have been a memorable World Cup hundred. The Proteas tracked down the target with 77 balls to spare.