December 09, 2019
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    Woeful Lanka throws away World Cup chance

    June 29, 2019

    DURHAM, FRIDAY – Sri Lanka gave a woeful batting performance against South Africa to undermine their chances of qualifying for a place in the World Cup semi-finals when they lost a crucial contest played at Chester-le-Street here on Friday by nine wickets.It was a must win game for the Lankans and after a good beginning when they scored 67 runs off the first ten powerplay overs, their batting simply fell away and they limped to 203 largely through poor decision-making with the bat.

    Every batsman from 2-9 got into double figures but none got more than 30. That was the sorry tale of the Lankan batting. With no demons on the pitch, the South African batsmen especially Hashim Amla and skipper Faf du Plessis knocked the runs with ease, figuring in an unbroken 175-run partnership off 202 balls with both batsmen scoring undefeated half-centuries.

    Du Plessis finished on 96 not out off 103 balls and Amla on 80 not out off 105 balls with each of them hitting five fours.

    It was a clinical batting effort by South Africa who are out of the World Cup but nevertheless a win which they would be quite satisfied with. After losing Quinton de Kock for 15 – yorked by Lasith Malinga, Amla and Du Plessis simply annihilated the Lankan bowling with a batting display the Lankan bowlers had no answers to. Kagiso Rabada removed skipper Dimuth Karunaratne off the first ball of the match, but Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando provided the best batting of the innings for Sri Lanka with 67 off 63 balls. In the first ten overs they put the South African bowlers under pressure scoring eight fours in the first power play, but after that it was a very ordinary batting display by the Lankans who allowed the opposition to bowl at them and take control of the innings with only a further eight fours being hit in the remaining 40 overs!

    Sri Lanka on top at one stage handed back the initiative to South Africa by gifting their wickets. Apart from Kusal Perera who scored 30 off 34 balls and Fernando 30 off 29 balls, the rest of the batting really stuttered by not rotating the strike and their inability to get singles did not do the team any good either. The key thing is rotating the strike instead of burying the ball and keeping the ball busy which would have put the pressure right back on the bowlers. This, the Lankan batters failed to do on a nice evenly paced pitch, which was a bit on the slow side.

    After losing Kusal Perera and Fernando, the rest of the batting went into a sleep mode so that at the end of their innings there were 183 dot balls which alone tells the sad story about the batting. Sri Lanka haven’t got the depth in their batting and after losing three early wickets they played a dangerous game getting into a defensive mindset from which they found it difficult to change gears once the wickets started to tumble.

    The only thing that Sri Lanka did right was to deprive the dangerous Imran Tahir of a wicket. It was the first time that Tahir had failed to take a wicket against Sri Lanka.

    Fernando once again showed his inexperience at this level when he got out when well set for a big score. He was getting on top of the bowling but gifted his wicket to South Africa who was finding it difficult to find the right line to bowl to the left-right combination. Going for an expansive drive against Dwaine Pretorius, he miscued the ball to mid-off for du Plessis to hold onto an easy catch.

    Perera simply chopped the ball onto his stumps and when Kusal Mendis was caught at cover, Pretorius who came at the expense of Lungi Ngidi had the best figures among the South African bowlers with 3 for 46. Not the quickest of bowlers in the side, Pretorius who won the Man of the Match award, managed to get the ball to skid through on the surface which undid the Lankan batsmen.

    Following Sri Lanka’s excellent turn around against England there was great expectations for them to continue with the momentum into this game and a large contingent of Sri Lankan fans were present at the venue, only to return home disappointed.

     

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