Pollock praises plucky Proteas
Man-of-the-match Shaun Pollock acknowledged South Africa’s character after they battled to claim a 78-run victory over Sri Lanka to keep their Champions Trophy hopes alive.
Needing victory to stay in the tournament, South Africa recovered from 30 for three to reach 219 for nine and then dismissed Sri Lanka for 141.
All-rounder Pollock hit an unbeaten 21 to help add 38 in the last three overs and then claimed two wickets as Sri Lanka slumped to 34 for four in reply.
“I think we did really well at the end of our innings,” said Pollock, who added 42 in less than five overs with Robin Peterson to propel South Africa beyond 200.
“We got nearly 100 runs in the last 15 overs and then put a bit of pressure on them when we bowled up front - we showed a lot of character as a team to go from 30 for three to fight back and win the way we did.”
South African captain Graeme Smith was delighted with the win and praised the 80-run stand between Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers for giving them the platform to launch their late run-charge.
“We knew we needed to get one good partnership to get a base and allow us to cash in a little bit at the end and it was the last 15 overs where we got the majority of our runs,” he said.
“The little cameo innings from Shaun and Robin at the end got us to a total that was defendable. I thought we bowled with a lot of aggression and we were very precise with our areas and I’m very proud of the guys.”
South Africa could now seal their place in the semi-finals if they beat Pakistan in their final group game, but Sri Lanka must now hope for other results to go in their favour after just one win from their three matches.
“I thought it was a ‘gettable’ score, but losing four early wickets was not going to help the cause,” conceded disappointed Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene.
“I think the South Africans bowled really well first up. They had to take wickets and they did that.
“I think we bowled well and to chase 220 was a good score - we’d have taken that before the game.
“We managed to restrict them during the first 20 overs and the spinners bowled really well, but we probably gave away too many runs towards the end during the last five overs.
“But I think we lost the match by losing those early wickets and we never had the momentum when we were chasing runs.”
Sri Lanka opted to bowl first due to their experience of how the dew can be a major influence for the side bowling second under the lights at Ahmedabad.
Jayawardene said: “We’ve played here before and we knew we had to manage the first 15 overs and keep wickets in hand and once the dew comes we can settle down when it becomes easier to bat.
“We lost the plot today by losing too many wickets early on.”