Proteas on target for semis
South Africa are back on track to qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy semi-finals following their 78-run win over Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
Graeme Smith’s side, who were humiliated in their opening match against New Zealand when they capitulated to 108 all out chasing a modest 196, could be peaking at the right time in a tournament that has seen several sides perform well in one game and struggle in the next.
The team responded strongly in Ahmedabad when they themselves defended a mediocre 219 against the Sri Lankans - and ended up bowling their opponents out for 141.
The Sri Lankans were ecstatic following the win, especially after the recent history between the two sides.
Two months ago, the Proteas were whitewashed 2-0 in a Test series in Sri Lanka before controversially pulling out of a triangular series in the same country following a bomb blast in Colombo.
But now Graeme Smith’s men are back in contention and the captain hailed his team’s effort and determination in the field.
Smith reserved special praise for his opening bowlers, who both bowled a good line and grabbed two wickets apiece.
“Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini were outstanding at the start of the Sri Lankan innings and the others bowlers maintained the aggression,” he said.
“We wanted to strike hard in the first 15 overs before the dew could have an effect on the ball and that is precisely what we did.”
Smith had further praise for man-of-the-match Pollock, who claimed figures of two for 21 in his 10 overs having also shared a vital 42-run partnership with Robin Peterson.
“The little cameo innings from Shaun and Robin at the end got us to a total that was defendable. I'm very proud of the guys,” added Smith.
South Africa now control their own destiny and a win on Friday against Pakistan will seal their spot in the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka, for their part, finished the tournament with just one win from their three group games and are anchored to the foot of the pool with just two points.