Published : 9:00 am  March 29, 2016 | No comments so far |  |  (464) reads | 


Untitled-3It’s all over for Sri Lanka. Angelo Mathews’ men will head home this morning having squandered their last chance to finish the tournament on a high, as they were handed a comfortable eight-wicket defeat by South Africa in a dead-rubber played at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium yesterday. The match had little interest for both teams, with semi-finals spots already decided and many prayed for an improved performance from the Sri Lankan lads to restore some pride, but the defending champions produced a calamitous performance with the bat yet again to suffer their third defeat of the biannual tournament. Sri Lanka beat Afghanistan in their tournament opener but lost to West Indies and England before today’s dead-rubber Sri Lanka’s infamous middle order comprising Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedara, Milinda Siriwardena and Shehan Jayasuriya cut a sorry figure surrendering meekly against the South African pace and spin bowlers as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 120 with three balls to spare.

South Africa, though slow in their run-chase scaled down the target comfortably with Hashim Amla making a calculated halfcentury. He also shared 60 runs for the second wicket with skipper Faf du Plessis who was controversially given leg before off pacer Suranga Lakmal when the ball took a big inside edge onto the pad. However Amla who made 56 off 52 balls put the finishing touches with a quickfire 47 for the second wicket with AB de Villiers who finished it off in a flourish with a huge six over mid-wicket off Lakmal to finish their tournament with a win. It was a brilliant all-round effort by the South Africans, offering no mercy to the Sri Lankans who looked like wounded soldiers going to war. Earlier, Sri Lanka put on to bat first with skipper Angelo Mathews and Chameera Dushmantha both out injured batted aggressively but when Dinesh Chandimal was bowled through the gate by Aaron Phangiso for 21 in the fifth over of the innings, it exposed Sri Lanka’s fragile middle-order.

Lahiru Thiriminanne, who was brought in at the last minute for reasons best known to the selectors ahead of Niroshan Dickwella, made a mockery of his selection when he was bowled through the gate for a first-ball duck. Highly rated as a technicallysound batsmen with a great temperament, he could only watch as the ball went through the gate rattling the stumps as he finished the tournament with just 14 runs (6, 5, 3, 0) in four matches. From a healthy 45 for no loss by the fifth over, Sri Lanka fell to 45 for 2 and Milinda Siriwardene dug a big hole for his team when he ran himself out after pushing the ball to the mid-wicket region. Shehan Jayasuriya who replaced injured Angelo Mathews lasted just three balls before he offered a simple catch to Faf du Plessis at short cover off Farhaan Behardien. With four of the top order back in the pavilion by the half way mark, Sri Lanka’s only hope was Dilshan to get Sri Lanka to a challenging total, as he had done many times before, but Behardien trapped him leg before when the score was on 85.