Wednesday 28 March 2007 

South Africa Crawl To Victory Despite Malinga Heroics

After one of the most extraordinary finishes to a World Cup game, South Africa, led by a composed and well organised half-century from Jacques Kallis did just enough to claim a 1 wicket victory over Sri Lanka in their first Super Eight match in Guyana.

South Africa made 212 for 9 off of 48.2 overs in reply to Sri Lanka's 209 all out, overcoming an early wicket, a middle order slump, and a late flurry of wickets to scramble home with 10 balls remaining.

They survived a huge late scare as Lasith Malinga took 4 late wickets in 4 balls removing Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Kallis and Makhaya Ntini.

Kallis' innings of 86, along with a half-century from captain Graeme Smith put South Africa in the driving seat as they overcame the loss of AB De Villiers, clean bowled by Chaminda Vaas for a duck, although a fine spell of bowling from Muttiah Muralitharan, who took 3 for 34 from his 10 overs, gave them some nervy moments along the way.

Coming together with the score on 1-1, Kallis and Smith played confidently in a partnership worth 94, despite some poor running between the wickets. Smith reached his fifty driving the erratic Lasith Malinga straight down the ground as the Sri Lankan bowlers bowled far too close to his pads to contain him.

It took the introduction of Muralitharan to separate the pair, having Smith stumped for a well made 59. At the halfway stage, the score was 134 for 2 with Kallis reaching his half-century off of 55 balls. Muralitharan then came back to take the wickets of Herschelle Gibbs (31) caught and bowled and Mark Boucher, lbw for a golden duck as South Africa were reduced to 160-4.

Justin Kemp fell to another piece of smart work by Sangakkara, stumped off of Sanath Jayasuriya for 5 as South Africa lost their fifth wicket with the score on 182.

Had Malinga not put down a tough caught and bowled chance which would have seen Kallis departing next ball, then the Sri Lankans would have been in with a great chance, but that catch going down looked to have signalled the end of their challenge, despite the same bowler removing Pollock with four runs remaining, clean bowled.

Even at this point, South Africa, who had been cruising to an apparently routine victory since the coming together of Kallis and Smith, looked certain to win, but Malinga, who had been bowling with little precision up to that point, soon had other ideas.

Sri Lankan hopes of a miracle victory increased as Malinga then had Hall caught next ball. When he had Kallis and Ntini removed in successive balls in his next over, he looked to have turned certain defeat into victory, in the process engineering the most outrageous of comebacks.

It wasn't to be, however, as after Charl Langeveldt bravely played out an over from Chaminda Vaas, Robin Peterson edged Malinga for four to seal victory.

Earlier, Sri Lanka's batsmen struggled, being bowled out for 209 as Charl Langeveldt finished with figures of 5-39.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and elected to bat, but saw his side lose both openers quickly as Upul Tharanga (13) was caught at slip and Sanath Jayasuriya offered a catch to the offside (26).

The captain himself fell for 12 after trying to fend off a rising delivery from Charl Langeveldt and only succeeding in directing the ball upwards where the catch was taken by AB De Villiers.

Kumar Sangakkara and Chamara Silva were rebuilding the innings before Sangakkara was brilliantly caught by Mark Boucher off of the bowling of Andrew Hall for 28. Silva was then run out Jonty Rhodes style by an airborne Herschelle Gibbs for 9.

Hashan Tillekaratne (58) and Russel Arnold (50) both made fighting fifties to haul Sri Lanka past 200 before both perished looking for late runs before Charl Langeveldt removed Farveez Maharoof for 5 to take his fourth wicket. Langeveldt then completed a triple wicket maiden in the 49th over as Chaminda Vaas fell first ball caught in the deep.

The final wicket to fall was Muttiah Muralitharan, run out by Shaun Pollock.

Both sides made one team change, South Africa bringing in spinner Robin Peterson for Ashwell Prince and Sri Lanka recalling Farveez Maharoof with Dilhara Fernando.

John Pennington
© Cricket World 2007

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