Chester-le-Street: Already out of the tournament, South Africa on Friday registered a clinical nine-wicket consolation win over Sri Lanka in the ongoing World Cup and skipper Faf du Plessis said the victory came a "little bit too late" for the Proteas.
Former champions Sri Lanka are all but out of the tournament after the Islanders produced a dismal batting show to manage a modest 203, a target which the Proteas overhauled with 76 balls in hand.
With just six points from seven games, Sri Lanka still have a mathematical chance to be in the semifinals. But for that, they first need to win their last two games against already-eliminated West Indies (on July 1) and India (July 6) and then depend on favourable results from other remaining league stage games.
"Long time coming hey. It was a good game, we did ourselves justice with the talent we have in that dressing room. Set up by a good bowling performance. Dwaine (Pretorius) was exceptional. We've been trying to get him into the XI, but it's a balance thing. The nature of the wicket told me it needed to be straight lines with the ball, and that's why I brought Dwaine and Andile on early," Du Plessis said after South Africa registered only their second win in the competition.
"Line and length was harder to face than pace on that wicket. (This win) feels bittersweet. It doesn't feel like it means that much. It's a little bit too late," he added.
Du Plessis said after seven games, South African batsmen finally managed to put up a decent show with the bat in the World Cup.
"But the basics of batting were shown today. We haven't had guys batting through, and big partnerships, but that was the case today. One big partnership, and suddenly everything seems so much easier," he said.
"Bangladesh was the one that really took the wind out of our sails. England were too good for us on that day. Bangladesh really sucker-punched us in the stomach, and then we took that into the next game, the first week really set us back, but we cant use that as an excuse."
Losing skipper Dimuth Karunaratne lamented his side's batting approach, which according to him was the architect of the defeat.
"All departments went wrong, especially the batting," Karunaratne said.
"Kusal (Perera) and Avishka (Fernando) batted really well, we struggled to get even singles. If you cant rotate the strike, it's not easy. There's pressure, and then there are big shots. The wicket got better and better, and South Africa batted really well," he said.
"The pitch was a bit slow, and South Africa bowled really well. They built pressure and kept fielders in the ring. They planned really well. We couldn't get singles. We needed to get wickets early.
"(Lasith) Malinga started really well, but at the other end we couldn't build pressure. These are the sorts of things we need to think about and learn from. We have two more games, we have to win those two games. We have to work hard in all three departments. Heads up, and hopefully we'll do well.