South Africa finished their campaign on a winning note when they beat Sri Lanka by eight wickets with 14 balls to spare in the final group match of the ICC World Twenty20 at Delhi on Monday evening. The result means that the Proteas finish third in Group One and are left to reflect on missed opportunities. They had the best run rate of any team in their group but finished on the wrong side of narrow defeats against England and the West Indies.
Significantly, the Proteas used their two specialist spin bowlers in the Power Play for the first time and it paid dividends as they restricted Sri Lanka to 47/2 in the first six overs with Man of the Match Aaron Phangiso taking both wickets off successive deliveries. It say a lot about the left-arm spinner’s tenacity because he had been hit for a four and a six off the first two deliveries of that over. The Proteas, who had won the toss and opted to bowl first, ran through the Sri Lankan middle-order with their next slowest bowler, Farhaan Behardien, also picking up two wickets.
Kyle Abbott then picked off the tail to dismiss Sri Lanka for 120. Sri Lanka contributed to their own demise with some poor stroke selection and suicidal running between the wickets. They gave themselves some hope when Quinton De Kock was run out in the second over.
This is a matter for the Proteas to sort out as it was the second match in a row in which one of the two openers had been run out early on. This time it did not have a major impact but the run out of Amla against the West Indies may well have been decisive in a low-scoring match. The Proteas put the match to bed during successive partnerships of 60 between Amla and Faf Du Plessis and an unbroken 47 between Amla and AB De Villiers.
Amla finished unbeaten on 56 (52 balls, 5 fours and a six) to become the fourth South African after JP Duminy, De Villiers and Du Plessis to reach the milestone of 1 000 T20 International runs. De Kock was the only South African to post a tournament aggregate in excess of 150.