Rusty SA slip up in opener

2009-09-23 00:00

RAIN, Sri Lanka and cup games are not words that sit well with South Africans, and last night all three elements had their say as a ring-rusty Proteas side made the worst possible start to their Champions Trophy campaign, losing by 55 runs on Duckworth/Lewis.

The most convincing chase at Centurion last night came from two security guards who pursued a gallant streaker as the rain fell down. Even that was in vain, as the culprit snuck into the stands and put a real end to the night’s entertainment.

Before we stray too far from the matter at hand, however, the most devastating contributor to South Africa’s demise was a slick Sri Lankan team that came straight from a month of tough cricket.

Their batsmen played with more assurance — especially the dashing Tillakaratne Dilshan (106 off 92 balls) — while their bowlers executed their plans expertly.

Graeme Smith’s side was the exact opposite.

“We were very tentative up-front and only got into the game after 16 overs,” Smith admitted after the match.

It was always a major gamble to come into a major event after a three month vacation, and the Proteas were harshly exposed.

“After such a long break there was always that worry and we got exposed tonight. We just were not good enough.”

Their two most effective one-day bowlers from last season — Wayne Parnell and Johan Botha — were carted by Sri Lanka’s top order. To add to their woes, South Africa’s famed fielding had as much rust as some of the braai tongs that had been stashed away for winter.

Misfields, missed chances and a lack of sharpness saw Smith’s men leak 320 runs, and even that could have been worse had Sri Lanka not lost their way somewhat in the last 10 overs.

Dilshan’s brutal assault was directed mainly at young Parnell, whose three wickets came at the premium cost of 79 runs.

Dale Steyn accounted for veteran Sanath Jayasuriya, but that only set the stage for Kumar Sangakarra (54) and Dilshan to take charge of the game.

While Dilshan was daring, the elegant left-hander effortlessly rattled up his 50 as they added 158 quality runs before falling within seven balls of each other.

If South Africa were hoping for some respite, they were rudely awakened by Mahela Jayawardene. The former skipper sprinted to 77 off 61 balls as the visitors really stepped on the gas.

Not much went right for Smith, who intriguingly chose to bowl on a track that was always likely to do more under lights.

The home skipper looked well on his way to atoning for his error as he galloped to 58 from 44 balls.

Then Ajantha Mendis entered the frame, and the Proteas’ chase unravelled. The spin wizard completely flummoxed Smith and JP Duminy, and added Jacques Kallis to his basket in a spell that swung the match decisively.

“We had obviously looked at him ahead of the game, but we must also give credit because he had great control and did very well,” Smith said.

From there it was a matter of hope for South Africa.

Mark Boucher, Albie Morkel and even Johan Botha kept the crowd briefly interested, but by the time the skies opened the game was up with the Proteas on 206/7, 55 runs behind the required Duckworth/Lewis score.

Tomorrow’s clash against the Kiwis now becomes a must-win for the Proteas, who have quickly put the uncomfortable tag of favourites on offer to anyone who wants to take it.

Scoreboard in the ICC Champions Trophy one-day international between South Africa and Sri Lanka at SuperSport Park yesterday.

Toss: South Africa

Sri Lanka innings

T Dilshan c Morkel b Steyn 106

S Jayasuriya lbw Steyn 10

K Sangakkara c and b Duminy 54

M Jayawardena c Duminy b Parnell 77

T Samaraweera c Van der Merwe b Parnell 37

A Mathews b Steyn 15

T Kandambi c Duminy b Parnell 6

D Kulasekara run out (Van der Merwe/Steyn) 1

M Muralidharan not out 0

Extras (5lb, 5w, 3nb) 13

Total (for 8 wkts) 319 - 50 overs

Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Jayasuriya 2.2), 2-174 (Sangakkara 27.6), 3-181 (Dilshan 29.1), 4-297 (Jayawardena 46.3), 5-297 (Samaraweera 46.4), 6-314 (Kandambi 48.6), 7-317 (Kulasekara 49.4), 8-319 (Mathews 49.6)

Bowling: Steyn 9-2-47-3 (1w), Parnell 10-0-79-3 (1nb,3w), Kallis 7-0-43-0, A Morkel 4-0-39-0 (1nb), Botha 9-0-53-0 )1nb, 1w), Van der Merwe 10-0-42-0, Duminy 1-0-11-1

South Africa innings

G Smith b Mendis 58

H Amla b Mathews 2

J Kallis c Mathews b Mendis 41

A de Villiers c Jayasuriya b Malinga 24

J Duminy b Mendis 0

M Boucher lbw Mathews 26

A Morkel not out 29

J Botha c Mathews b Malinga 21

R van der Merwe not out 3

Extras (2w) 2

Total (for 7 wkts) 206 — 37.4overs

Fall of wickets: 1-9 (Amla 2.6). 2-90 (Smith 14.1), 3-113 (Kallis 20.3), 4-113 (Duminy 20.4), 5-142 (De Villiers 26.2)

Bowling: Malinga 7.4-0-43-2 (1w), Kulasekara 7-0-44-0, Mathews 8-1-43-2, Muralidharan 8-0-46-0, Mendis 7-0-30-0 (1w)

Result: Sri Lanka win by 55 runs according to Duckworth-Lewis method. — Sapa.

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