South Africa ticked one of the most important outstanding boxes on their World Cup preparation list after Hashim Amla and Quinton De Kock shared an opening stand of 116 in only 15 overs to set up a five-wicket victory in their warm-up match against Sri Lanka at Christchurch today. In a match that was badly disrupted by the elements the Proteas chased down their target of 188 in 25 overs with three balls to spare. The original target had been 224 in 30 overs and the Proteas reached 116/0 in 15 overs when the rain intervened again.
De Kock had hit 19 off that final over including two sixes and a four. The rain intervened again and they were left with a revised target of 72 from the remaining 60 deliveries. Crucially they lost both Amla and De Kock in the first over after the resumption in the space of six balls and the same thing happened shortly afterwards when both JP Duminy and David Miller were also dismissed in the space of six balls before first Faf Du Plessis and then Rilee Rossouw and Vernon Philander steadied the ship to complete the job in convincing style.
Amla made 46 off 40 balls (4 fours and a six) and De Kock, in only his second innings since injury, 66 off 55 balls with six fours and two sixes. His return to form would have been a priority for the Proteas strategists. AB De Villiers was rested from the game because of a stiff hip which made the successful chase even more pleasing. The other significant feature of the win was the batting of Philander at seven.
With the exception of Aaron Phangiso all the bowlers got in some sort of work-out with Kyle Abbott (3/37 in 6.4) being the most successful. Wayne Parnell emphasized his importance in the middle overs with two wickets while Imran Tahir captured the important wicket of Kumar Sangakkara. On the Sri Lankan side Tillakaratne Dilshan continued his impressive form with a century off 83 balls (15 fours and two sixes). Their captain, Angelo Mathews, made a successful return from injury and illness (58 off 49 balls, seven fours and a six).
Rangana Herath was the most successful bowler with a return of 3/22 in his limit of 5 overs, including both De Kock and Amla. Possibly the most important reminder the Proteas will have taken note of is not to lose wickets in clumps as happened on two occasions today.