Sri Lanka’s 4-wicket loss to South Africa of a decisive Super 12 match had all to do with the run out of star batsman Charith Asalanka who committed hara-kiri when on song on 21 having added 41 off 30 balls with Pathum Nissanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Saturday. The unwanted exercise of prioritising a second run to going the distance in that indiscretion cost Sri Lanka the match as their semi-final hopes disintegrated with it. Nissanka went on to make a 58-ball 72 following that flourishing partnership that was cut short with Asalanka looking threatening having reached the boundary twice and struck a six off 14 balls when he threw caution to the wind. The fielder was Kagisso Rabada who threw flat into the gloves of Quinton de Kock to do the rest that clearly underlined the Lankans underestimation of arguably the world’s best acrobatic fielding side.
That the game slipped a second time from Sri Lanka’s gasp was a bitter pill to swallow failing to defend 14 runs from 5 balls when quick Lahiru Kumara lost his length sending down two lollypop full deliveries to David Miller who smote them for successive sixes as South Africa closed on Sri Lanka’s 142 reaching 146 for 6 to win with a ball to spare.
The South Africans having thus broken the backbone of the Lankan batting started when Kusal Janith Perera was bowled by Anrich Nortje for 7. Following the brief revival by Nissanka and Asalanka that flattered and faltered, the rest caved in before the wily spin of Player of the Match Tabraiz Shamsi who ran through the side in a 3-wicket burst that accounted for Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Avishka Fernando, both caugfht and bowled for a duck and 3 respectively and having Wanindu Hasaranga caught by Aiden Markram for 4. From 61 for 2 Sri Lanka lost the last 8 wickets for 81 runs with the only other batsman to enter double figures being the Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka of a frugal 11 off 12.
In the end, even a magical hat-trick Sri Lanka’s prized spin wizard Wanindu Hasaranga could not stop the South Africans from tight roping their way to victory with pacie Lahiru Kumara virtually surrendering the game by those two ‘hit me’ loose balls.
Sri Lanka 142 (20 Overs) RR: 7.10
(Pathum Nissanka 72, Charith Asalanka 21, Dasun Shanaka 11, Tabraiz Shamsi 3/17, Dwaine Pretorius 3/17, Anrich Nortje 2/27)
South Africa 146/6 (19.5 Overs) RR:7.36
(Temba Bavuma 46, Aiden Markram 19, David Miller n.o. 23, Quinton de Kock 12, Reeza Hendricks 11, Kagisso Rabada n.o. 01)