Proteas storm into Super Eight in style

2012-09-22 20:34

Commanding victory over Sri Lanka provides big confidence boost

The Proteas will enter this week’s tough Super Eight stage with added confidence after their 32-run win over hosts Sri Lanka in their rain-affected last Group C ICC Twenty20 fixture at Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium yesterday.

Afternoon showers ensured that the match was reduced to a seven-over per side shoot-out in a dead rubber fixture for both sides.

They had already qualified for the knockout phases after their comprehensive wins over Zimbabwe.

However, Sri Lanka and South Africa – two strong contenders for the title – needed a tough contest in the 56 minutes of play that were possible to prepare for the greater challenges to come this week.

More importantly, it was a first chance for the Proteas to seal a match under pressure – something they said they wanted to do in this competition in their search for major tournament success.

Having been sent in to bat after losing the toss in the first T20 meeting between the countries, the Proteas posted 78 for four, propped up by captain AB de Villiers’ quick-fire 30 off 13 balls.

He hit a boundary and two sixes.

He was fittingly aided by his deputy Hashim Amla’s cameo of 16 from nine balls with three boundaries.

In reply, the Proteas’ pace attack supported the outstanding batting effort as they restricted the Sri Lankans to 46 for five from seven overs.

The home team got their chase off to the worst possible start, losing captain Mahela Jayawardene and the explosive Tillakaratne Dilshan early, with the latter run out without facing a ball.

Kumar Sangakkara and Dilshan Munaweera top scored with 13 each, while Proteas fast bowler Dale Steyn picked up two for 10 from two overs, and Jacques Kallis and Albie Morkel took a wicket apiece.

On their way to Colombo later today, looking ahead to their possible opponents Pakistan on Friday, the South Africans will travel to the capital city with an enhanced belief in themselves to capture a major tournament victory.

There were concerns about their normally world-class fielding with dropped catches from Faf du Plessis, Albie and Morne Morkel.

Of particular concern is Du Plessis, who is battling for form with the bat.

The Proteas are seeded in a formidable Group F in the last eight, set to be finalised next week, but they are not expecting any surprises.

It should include Australia, whom they could play on Sunday, and India on October 2 – all at R Premadasa Stadium.

The wicket is expected to be similar to the one in Hambantota, carrying enough bounce for the seamers, though it may dry out to suit spinners in the final week of the competition.

While the individual talents from the subcontinent of Pakistan and India will be a threat, a strong fight is also expected from South Africa’s once-domineering rivals, Australia, whose clash with the West Indies in Colombo was cut short by rain.

In reply to the challenging 191/8 set by Darren Sammy’s men, Shane Watson’s 24-ball unbeaten 41 helped Australia to a 17-run win by Duckworth/ Lewis as Australia raced to 100/1 in 9.1 overs.

With the North East monsoon prevalent at this time of the year, rain had a major say in yesterday’s games and could influence more matches with the cut-throat stage beckoning.

The last international tournament held in Sri Lanka, the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy which was staged towards the end of September, saw the final rained off and the trophy shared by the hosts and India
The fielding, however, which saw three chances shelled, disappointed De Villiers.

He knows classier teams will punish such errors.

It is worth noting that the Proteas slipped up in a similarly shortened T20 match against England.

“A win is a win and we got the confidence out of it. You are as good as your last game,” De Villiers said.

“Yes, the field was a bit wet, but there should be no excuses. There will be lots of hard work, especially in the fielding, and other areas as well.”

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