CRICKET / Sri Lankan batsmen lose the plot by swinging at everything
Powered by the ever-dependable A.B. de Villiers and a late burst by J-P Duminy, South Africa posted a healthy 78 for four and then restricted host Sri Lanka to 46 to win its last Group fixture in the ICC world T20 tournament in a shortened version of the shortest form of cricket.
Rains ahead of the start of the game reduced it to seven-overs-a side game. The Sri Lankan batsmen seemed to have forgotten the basics of the game and swung the bat from the word go during the run chase.
Unlike South Africa which did not re-jig its batting order, Sri Lanka felt compelled to do so, moving Dilshan Munaweera from opening to one-drop.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene took upon himself the responsibility of opening and began heaving from ball one. Mahela survived a loud lbw appeal off the second ball of Morne Morkel, but did not do enough to justify his place.
An ill-judged run brought about T.M. Dilshan’s (0) end and at 8 for 2, it did not seem to be going Sri Lanka’s way.
Even Kumar Sangakkara who was dropped twice failed to capitalise. The blind heaving / slogging did not stop even after he departed.
In fact, there was hardly any attempt on the part of any of the batsmen to play a decent cricket stroke. While the South African batsmen revelled in taking twos, Sri Lanka managed to take only five 2s. The South Africans also ran a three — and that essentially made a huge difference.
There was more than a little discussion when the South African openers Richard Levi and Hashim Amla walked in. Amla is relatively new to the format and is not known for his hard hitting. But he acquitted himself well.
Levi was the first to go, in the first over, as he attempted to just clear the infield off a Kulasekara slower ball. The bat appeared to have come down a shade too quicker, and it resulted in the ball going off the base the bat.
Munaweera, at mid-on ran backwards, dived full length to bring up the most breathtaking catch of the tournament so far.
Amla played straight and correct until he was tempted by Rangana Herath. He stepped out, possibly because of the pressure — only six runs had come from the over — and heaved. Amla missed the line completely and Sangakkara completed the stumping.
From there on Man-of-the-Match de Villiers took over with some clean hitting. He won the battle against Herath, first reverse sweeping him over point, and then lifting him over long on from his backfoot. His six of Malinga was even more magnificent: a short ball was slapped over the mid-wicket fence.
The best way
Having won the toss, Mahela’s reasoning was that bowling first was the best way in a shortened game. de Villiers was confident, having played two reduced T20s in England, just before heading to Sri Lanka.
In the game, Power Play lasted two overs. Two bowlers could bowl two overs each, and three, could bowl one over.
South Africa made one change from the team that played Zimbabwe — Faf du Plessis replaced Robin Peterson. Sri Lanka did not have the services of its hero from the last game, Ajantha Mendis, who suffered a side strain. Rangana Herath replaced him.