Sri Lanka waste solid start

A cautious Sri Lanka failed to make the most of a solid start in their do-or-die triangular series match against South Africa at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval on Tuesday, coasting to an unthreatening 257-9.

The Sri Lankans, mindful of the shocking batting collapse that cost them the match the last time the two teams played, were given a good platform by skipper Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Sangakkara, with both posting half-centuries.

But with opener Sanath Jayasuriya, who made a rapid 25, the first wicket to fall, they lacked a big hitter capable of pushing the score along later in the innings.

The match is the last qualifying fixture of the limited-overs series before the best-of-three finals start on Friday, with the winner earning the right to play Australia.

Although competitive, Sri Lanka’s total did not present a huge challenge for South Africa on an excellent batting wicket.

Atapattu was the glue for the Sri Lankans, reaching 80 off 122 balls before holing out to an excellent over-the-shoulder catch from Andrew Hall.

But his tally of just four boundaries was indicative of the missing sparkle in the Sri Lankan batting, especially against a relatively inexperienced attack.

Paceman Shaun Pollock, who has been the most consistent and economical of the South African bowlers throughout the series, had returned to the side following injury.

He made the breakthrough on Jayasuriya with the danger man dragging him on to his stumps in the ninth over with the total at 52.

But the less experienced Dale Steyn wasn’t so lucky, suffering the humiliation of being subbed by captain Graeme Smith after being carted for 0-32 off just three overs.

Sangakkara and Atapattu put on 123 runs with the former making 62 off 77 balls, including five boundaries, before being caught by Boeta Dippenaar off Johan van der Wath.

But even their batting lacked urgency and the running between wickets at times bordered on farcical.

In the end, the Sri Lankan batting petered out with their run rate falling to 5,14 an over and losing their last eight wickets for just 82 runs.—Sapa-AFP

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