World T20: Dominant Proteas thrash off-colour Sri Lankans

New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) South Africa dominated with both bat and ball to outclass defending champions Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the final Group 1 match of the World Twenty20 at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium here on Monday.

Having bowled out the Sri Lankans for a mere 120 runs, the South Africans overhauled the target in 17.4 overs with the veteran Hashim Amla leading the way with a half century.

Amla remained unbeaten on 56 runs off 52 balls with five boundaries and a six.

The result of the match had no bearing on the overall picture of the tournament as both teams had already crashed out of the race for the semi-finals.

The Proteas, who have two wins and as many defeats in the group stage, thus finished their campaign in this edition of the tournament on the high.

The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, will probably heave a sigh of relief as they concluded a disappointing campaign. The defending champions have suffered three defeats with a lone win against minnows Afghanistan.

South African skipper Faf du Plessis elected to field first on winning the toss. His decision proved to be a correct one as the Proteas exploited helpful bowling conditions to bundle out Sri Lanka for a meagre 120 runs.

Farhaan Behardien (2/15), Kyle Abott (2/14) and Aaron Phangiso (2/26) were the pick among the Proteas bowlers while leg-spinner Imran Tahir (1/18) was unlucky not to get more wickets.

Experienced fast bowler Dale Steyn (1/33) surprisingly, gave away quite a few runs, although he did have some consolation in the form of a wicket.

The Sri Lankans were off to a good start with openers Tilakratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal scoring at a brisk pace. Dilshan was the highest scorer among the Sri Lankan batsmen with 36 runs off 40 balls. Chandimal scored 21.

The duo added 45 runs before Chandimal went for a cover drive off Phangiso, only to miss the line as the ball crashed into the stumps. Phangiso then sent back Lahiru Thirimanne off the very next delivery with one that turned in sharply after pitching outside the off stump.

Dilshan and Milinda Siriwardana (15) tried to bring the Sri Lankan innings back on track with a 30-run partnership. But South Africa wrested back the advantage when a superb piece of fielding by Faf du Plesis caught Siriwardana short of his crease.

By the time Dilshan was trapped leg-before while attempting a sweep off Behardien, Sri Lanka were in trouble at 85/5. Dasun Shanaka remained unbeaten on 20 off 18 balls, but the rest of the Lankan tailenders were unable to hold their own against the Proteas bowlers.

The Proteas chase was off to a rocky start as de Kock was run out in the second over thanks to an accurate throw by Dilshan. Amla and du Plessis however, steered South Africa to saftey with a 50-run partnership.

The South Africa captain departed after scoring 31 runs off 36 deliveries, but the experienced AB de Villiers joined Amla in the middle to carry his team to victory.

De Villiers, who remained unbeaten on 20, smashed two sixes in his 12-ball knock and brought up the win by smashing a full toss from Suranga Lakmal over the midwicket fence.

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 120 in 19.3 overs (Tilakratne Dilshan 36; Farhaan Behardien 2/15, Kyle Abott 2/14, Aaron Phangiso 2/26) vs South Africa 122/2 in 17.4 overs (Hashim Amla 56 n.o., Faf du Plessis 31; Suranga Lakmal 1/28)

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