ICC Champions Trophy 2017: South Africa have issued a stern warning with dominant win over Sri Lanka

Vedam Jaishankar, Jun, 04 2017

Sri Lanka’s decision to field first was predicated on two reasons: not to give a fresh pitch to the formidable South African pacers and to play to their own strength of batting deep and chasing targets.

However, the decision backfired because the South African bowling backed by skipper AB de Villiers’ outstanding fielding proved adept at defending a reasonable total.

Nevertheless, South Africa’s inability to emphatically turn the screws on the limited Sri Lankan team would have been worrying for its supporters. Tougher sides would simply chew them up if they got scent of fragilities.

Instead, rivals Sri Lanka faltered and allowed the South Africans to get out of jail.

Imran Thair was the pick of the bowlers, taking four wickets for 27 runs. Reuters

Imran Tahir was the pick of the bowlers, taking four wickets for 27 runs. Reuters

The opening bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell struggled to keep Lankan opener Niroshan Dickwella in check. But the other pacers, the tall duo, Morne Morkel and Chris Morris, bowled remarkably well.

The Lankans, tied down by these two pacers, who were getting decent bounce from a length, tried to pinch runs off leg spinner Imran Tahir and perished to his consistency and wile. His haul of four for 27 and a direct-hit run out of Suranga Lakmal fetched him the man of the match award.

But South Africa, impressive though they were in the win, would hardly be happy with the manner in which they batted. The openers Hashim Amla and Quiton de Kock looked so tense at the start that they struggled to work the ball off the square.

In fact, there has always been a question mark on South African cricketers’ temperament. They have tripped up in many international multi-nation games. Thus when their openers struggled today, it hardly inspired confidence.

Quinton de Kock’s footwork was sluggish while his bat speed and flow were literally non-existent. His dismissal in the 13th over actually freed the Proteas. His replacement Faf du Plessis looked far more busy while Amla slowly came back into his own.

Still, the two batsmen did not bat as aggressively as they ought to have. The important thing, though, was that they kept the team score going with their painful 145-run stand.

An anxious skipper AB de Villiers and David Miller, the two hard hitters in the Proteas camp, fell in an attempt to take the fight to the opponents. But Amla, JP Duminy and Morris kept the innings going.

Amla showed he would be the South African batting star to watch out for. He not only kept his end going but also scored at a reasonable rate after the initial hiccups. His hunger for runs was evident on Saturday too and the century he made (103 in 115 balls, 2x6, 5x4) was the cornerstone of the win.

It helped put sufficient runs on the board and the 300-run target was good enough for the bowlers to express themselves.

South Africa would however be vexed at the way Rabada, their pace ace, fell apart when Dickwella hustled him. The latter, a busy left-hand batsman, was never stationary at the crease. He often backed away or moved across or even stepped out to constantly throw the bowlers off rhythm. Rabada handled these tactics pretty badly. He tried to second-guess the batsman’s movement and ended up being wayward. He sent down three wides, two down the leg side and one particular short-pitched delivery which flew way above the batsman’s head.

The other new ball bowler, left-handed Parnell, hardly got the ball to swing or swerve. At his pace and without the comfort of seam and swing bowling to fall back upon, his bowling was not the force it was in the third and final One Day International against England the other day.

But Morkel showed his value in the team with an excellent burst of fast bowling. He got good bounce off a length and cramped up the batsmen. The other tall paceman Morris too was effective with a similar plan. Suddenly, the runs not only dried up but fetched the wickets of Dickwella and Mendis.

The other impressive aspect of South Africa’s win was the brilliant fielding of de Villiers. He took a very good catch to dismiss Mendis and later came up with a sensational run out to account for Dinesh Chandimal.

The win would have given South Africa plenty to cheer. They might have had their apprehensions at the start of the match. However, by the end they not only looked reassured but simply overwhelmed the opposition. Certainly a side to watch out for!

Published Date: Jun 04, 2017 | Updated Date: Jun 04, 2017

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 5957 119
2 Australia 5505 117
3 India 4717 115
4 England 5645 113
5 New Zealand 5123 111
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 1625 125
2 England 1962 123
3 Pakistan 2417 121
4 West Indies 2222 117
5 India 2183 115