Sri Lanka VS South Africa WORLD T20 2016
Defending champions Sri Lanka exited the World T20 with defeat in their final appearance. Instead, it was South Africa who left with a consolation win in a contest that lacked intensity as they eased past their opponents, first by restricting Sri Lanka to a small score, and then by clinically chasing it down.
For the first time in this World T20, South Africa’s attack had enough slow-bowling options – the two specialist spinner Aaron Phangiso and Imran Tahir, as well as the part-timer Farhaan Behardien – to strangle Sri Lanka’s spin-proficient line-up, minus the injured captain Angelo Mathews. South Africa’s bowlers left their batsmen a target of 121 and, with the ever-calm Hashim Amla as anchor, they had few problems reaching it.
But the victory will not gloss over the bigger picture and South Africa will still have questions to answer about their performances in earlier matches. Sri Lanka will face the same scrutiny and have the added worry of a new niggle. Lahiru Thirimanne was helped off the field in the 11th over with what seemed like a hamstring strain. Dale Steyn, who spent much of South Africa’s summer on the sidelines, may sympathise with him.
After sitting out the last two matches, Steyn was back to lead South Africa’s attack. He found early movement, but strayed down the leg side in his first over and came under attack in his second. Dilshan brought out his signature scoop to send Steyn to the boundary before Chandimal hooked and drove with power. With Kyle Abbott doing a decent job at the other end, Faf du Plessis’ only choice was to take Steyn out of the attack.
He brought on Aaron Phangiso and at first, it seemed a dangerous decision. Dilshan would not be tied down by the left-arm spinner, as the batsman slog-swept and charged Phangiso. Chandimal aimed to do the same, but the stand-in Sri Lanka captain’s attempt failed when he played for turn to one that stayed straight and Phangiso snuck through the bat-pad gap and onto the stumps.
Phangiso’s next delivery did not turn either but Thirimanne, who has been in wretched form, was drawn into the drive and missed. In the space of two balls, Sri Lanka’s innings was derailed, South Africa were in control and Phangiso was on a hat-trick.
Having seen success through spin, South Africa continued with it and Imran Tahir was brought on in the Powerplay. Dilshan and Milinda Siriwardana were forced to be more watchful. In frustration, Siriwardana tried to force a single off Phangiso but chanced the arm of du Plessis to his peril. South Africa dragged Sri Lanka back from a speedy start – after 45 runs came off the first five overs, only 32 came off the next five.
To strangle them further, Behardien was asked to bowl and his pace off the ball drew Shehan Jayasuriya into a uppish drive to gift du Plessis a catch in the covers. Behardien proved his shrewdness when he had Dilshan trapped lbw and Tahir followed up by bowling Chamara Kapugedera with a googly in a four-over period in which South Africa conceded just 14 runs.
Sri Lanka enjoyed some reprieve when Steyn returned but even not at his best, he had some joy. Steyn was doing his best to get the ball to stick in the pitch and when he did, Thisara Perera was drawn into a stroke early and offered a catch to cover. Sri Lanka were seven down and had yet to reach 100 with four overs left. Dasun Shanaka tried to accelerate, but he ran out of partners before the innings was up.