South Africa 78-4 (de Villiers 30) beat
Sri Lanka 46-5 (Steyn 2-10) by 32 runs
ICC World T20, Group C Match, Hambantota
The 2012 ICC World Twenty20 was still left waiting for its first close match as AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, coupled with the Hambantota rain, put pay to the home side's efforts against South Africa.
The start of the match had been delayed by more than two hours due to rain in the southern coastal town of Hambantota, and when it did finally get underway as a seven overs aside affair, South Africa's batsmen wasted little time in making the most of some full-pitched bowling from Sri Lanka's seamers.
Richard Levi was caught brilliantly by a diving Dilshan Munaweera running back from mid-on, but that was as good as it got for the tournament hosts. Hashim Amla swung his way merrily to 16 before playing one agricultural stroke too many and being stumped off Rangana Herath, but this merely opened the door for the superb AB de Villiers. He hit two sixes during his brief 13-ball stay at the crease and managed to completely transform the match in South Africa's favour.
De Villiers added 38 from three overs for the third-wicket with Faf du Plessis - scoring 30 of them himself - as South Africa closed strongly. His departure brought JP Duminy to the crease for the final over and he plonked Thisara Perera for six to end on 12 not out off just five deliveries and take his side to 78 for four.
If Morne Morkel's opening over confirmed that Sri Lanka's task would be far from easy - going for just five as well as yielding the run-out of Tillakaratne Dilshan without facing a ball - then Dale Steyn's opening salvo put the result virtually to bed. He found prodigious swing with the new white ball and bowled in excess of 90mph - all of which culminated in the final ball dismissal of Mahela Jayawardene, caught at deep square-leg by Farhaan Behardien.
Kumar Sangakkara then brightened things up with an eventful little innings, during which he played one or two nice shots, but achieved the surely unique feat of being dropped twice and almost run-out in just 10 balls. He eventually succumbed to Jacques Kallis for 13 as South Africa's ploy of bowling predominantly short of a length at Sri Lanka's batsmen continued to pay dividends.
Dilshan Munaweera and Thisara Perera both perished before the end with the match long gone, skying shots to fielders in the deep, and Sri Lanka ended on 46 for five; with the lesson to the tournament organisers surely one that seven overs aside is just too short for a cricket match.
After the match, a delighted AB de Villiers reflected on how his bowlers had out out-though Sri Lanka's, saying, "I thought we assessed conditions better tonight. I think we were quicker on the button than them. We're enjoying the wickets - there was a bit of bounce and seam but what made us play well was the energy and intensity the bowlers had at the crease. You've got to put it in to get it out and that's what they did."
© Cricket World 2012
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