Wednesday, March 18, 2015

South Africa Apply the Anti Choke, Storm Into the Semi Finals

Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in Sydney on 18th March 2015 - Match Review

South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets.

It was a bright sunny afternoon at the Sydney Cricket Ground when Angelo Mathews and AB De Villiers walked out for the toss with mark Nicholas. It was Angelo who won the toss and without any hesitation decided to bat first. There was speculation about the fitness of Rangana Herath and he was indeed injured and off spinner Tharindu Kaushal made his ODI debut for the Lankans the high pressure game. South Africa brought in Kyle Abbot for Vernon Philander.

In another surprise move, Sri lanka promoted Kusal Perera, and that was a move that I liked as Kusal is a batsman who can get the team off to a flier and in a crunch match that often helps settles the nerves in the dressing room. But he played and missed going for his shots in the first Dale Steyn over and finally offered a catch off Kyle Abbot to De Kock in the second over who juggled but pouched the ball. Dilshan then, slashing at a ball too close to his body gave a catch low to Faf Du Plessis at second slip who took it easily. Dilshan was out for a duck and Dale Steyn was pumped.

Lahiru Thirimanne came in at number 4, so that Mahela could be used for later overs and he started in a confident manner. He hit Abbot for two sweet boundaries through the covers before repeating the dose off Morkel. But at the other end, Kumar Sangakkara, the man who was coming in to this game off his 4 hundreds was being kept quiet by the South African quicks who bowled close to his body not affording him any room. Thirimanne made an attractive 41 before lobbing up a simple catch to Tahir off his own bowling. Mahela then came to the crease and joined hands with his old mate Kumar. But, with Sanga already struggling, Mahela too got bogged down by the variations of Tahir. Mahela was out to Tahir for the 4th time in his career and one could sense that the Lankan innings was just falling apart.

Sangakkara struggled on, at one stage he was on 5 off 40 balls but he batted manfully, trying to eke out runs for his team. Mathews then got hit by a nasty Morkel bouncer and he looked flustered after that. he was out caught at short mid wicket off the part time spin of JP Duminy. Thisara Perera departed without troubling the scorers as he gave Rossouw a catch in the slips. When JP Duminy got Nuwan Kulasekara and Tharindu Kaushal off the first two balls in his next over, he had completed an unexpected hat trick. Sanga, feeling frustrated and strangulated, attempted to break free and managed a couple of boundaries but he was caught at third man off Morkel. The skies opened up for a few moments at that stage and probably had the South Africans heaving a collective gasp of "Oh No!! Not Again!!". But it was just a passing shower and Tahir claimed his 4th wicket upon resumption of play and the Sri Lankans were bowled out for a paltry 133 in just 37.2 overs.

That total was never going to trouble the Proteas and they got there with the loss of just Hashim Amla, brilliantly caught at third man by Kulasekara off Malinga. Tharindu Kaushal bowled with guile and loop, and Chameera, though he leaked runs, with pace and fire. Quinton De Kock made a brilliant fifty, a welcome return to form for the diminutive wicket keeper.

Not the end that Sangakkara would have been hoping for as 
South Africa crushed Sri Lanka by 9 wickets in the 1st CWC15 Quarter Final at SCG

It was the last ODI that Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene played for Sri Lankans and they could not repeat their fairy tale script from the WT20 in Bangladesh where they bowed out on a high. There were a few tears and hugs all around for these two absolute legends of the game and they surely deserved a better end then this.

South Africa had turned a corner with this win, a World Cup win in the knockout match for the first time in 23 years. It took a long time coming but they finally achieved that. Now they will probably face their 2011 Quarter Final nemesis New Zealand who had handed them a trashing in the sub continent.

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