All-rounder JP Duminy took a hat-trick as South Africa put one foot in the World Cup semi-finals by dismissing Sri Lanka for 133 in their final eight clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
Bidding to win their first ever knockout match at a World Cup, the Proteas bowlers removed both openers inside the first five overs and never eased up the pressure thereafter.
Duminy (3-29) dismissed Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews (19) with the final ball of the 33rd over and returned to send back Nuwan Kulasekara (1) and ODI debutant Tharindu Kaushal (0) with the first two deliveries of the 35th.
Writing on the wall
The ninth World Cup hat-trick left the 1996 champions reeling at 116-8 after the loss four wickets for just two runs in three overs and when Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed soon afterwards, the writing was on the wall.
Sangakkara, who had been looking for a fifth successive century, scored a measured 45 from 95 balls but was forced to throw off the shackles as the wickets tumbled around him and holed out to deep third man off paceman Morné Morkel.
A heavy shower appeared out of the blue as if to mourn what looks like being the final one-day innings of one of the game’s great batsmen and the players came off the pitch for a 23-minute rain break.
It only delayed the inevitable, however, and Lasith Malinga (3) was the last man to depart, hammering the ball to David Miller at cover off South Africa’s other main spin threat Imran Tahir.
Test of mental resolve
Tahir took 4-26, including the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene to leave another retiring Sri Lanka batting great with a tally of four runs in his final innings in the 50-over format.
Sri Lanka, who won the toss and chose to bat, were never able to score at a pace that would have put pressure on the South Africans and test their mental resolve.
While Sangakkara was at the crease, though, they would have fancied their chances of putting on some kind of tally for their bowlers to defend.
Once he departed and the rain cleared, however, the semi-final appointment in Auckland against New Zealand or West Indies next week would now seem to be South Africa’s to keep. – Reuters