World Cup

South Africa crushes Sri Lanka in a damp squib

The first quarterfinal, easily the most-awaited one, turned out to be a damp squib. Sri Lanka had shown ominous form in the league and South Africa had recovered well after the early loss to India. But Sri Lanka’s world crashed against the determined South African bowlers, who were outstanding in slightly helpful conditions.

All credit to the trio of Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott and Morne Morkel. They came up with a sustained opening spell that created enormous pressure on the Sri Lankan top order batsmen. Steyn and Abbott bowled an impeccable line, attacking the fourth stump. They bowled at a length that was disconcerting for stroke-players such as T. Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara. Just when Sri Lanka promised to put up a fight, a superb spell by Imran Tahir swung the contest South Africa’s way.

Tahir’s was a highly laudable show. He has shown consistent improvement in his wicket-taking ability, and his strikes today were crucial. He nipped any hope of a Sri Lankan revival in the bud with his crafty stuff — snaring Lahiru Thirimanne with a cleverly concealed slower one and foxing Mahela Jayawardene with change of pace. The variety that Tahir brought to his leg-spin was the decisive factor in South Africa’s thumping victory, as Quinton de Kock warmed up for the next contest with a brilliant innings.

Among the South Africans, Jean-Paul Duminy was the surprise package. Who would have thought that Duminy would emerge as one of the key bowlers? But he was critical to South Africa’s stranglehold on the opposition after the initial success of the fast bowlers. It was sad that the trusted Sangakkara was unable to take charge. Sri Lanka not only lost the match but also the services of two of the game’s greatest batsmen, Sangakkara and Jayawardene, both making their final appearance in one-day cricket.

I am sure India would have done its homework on Bangladesh. Mohammad Mahmudullah brings robustness to Bangladesh’s batting, and the pace of Rubel Hossain can hustle the best in the business. Barring Rohit Sharma’s inconsistent form, the Indian batsmen have delivered, and I expect the bowlers to take charge and propel India into the semifinals.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 6:30:24 PM |

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