Sri Lanka stars' sign-off shaded by rampant South Africans' victory (The Independent)

Much more of this and the chokers will be consigned to history forever. South Africa were exemplary in all that they did yesterday in crushing Sri Lanka in the first quarter-final of the World Cup.

It could be said that Sri Lanka erred in everything from the moment they selected their team, but that would not do justice to a clinical exhibition from their opponents who embraced the occasion rather than be cowed by it.

There is a traditional closeness between these teams – there was a gap of one in wins and losses between them coming into this match – but in levelling the tally at 29-29, South Africa were completely dominant. They were stifling with the ball, whether quick or slow, and then won at a gallop in chasing down a paltry total of 133.

The match lasted a total of 55.2 overs. It was like something England could have been involved in. As a way for the old warriors, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, to depart the one-day stage together, after 852 appearances between them, it was extraordinarily sad.

Sangakkara, as ever, was as phlegmatic in defeat as he would have been in victory. His disappointment was tempered by the knowledge that South Africa had played with wonderful force.

“It’s disappointing to lose, especially in a quarter-final,” he said, “but to win against a side like South Africa we have to do really well. We have to compete.

“There was a stage, even – when we were four wickets down – where we probably could have gone through the powerplay and maybe got to the 240-250 mark. And we were expecting, as much as anyone, of ourselves. But we weren’t good enough today.”

Sri Lanka won what seemed to be an important toss. But that was the best it became for them all day. Fatally, it seemed, they changed their batting order, splitting up the opening partnership that had seen them reach this stage. Boldly, they included a fast bowler, Dushmantha Chameera, who had played two one-day matches, and a spinner, Tharindu Kaushal, who had played none.

South Africa were fierce at the start. The veins in Dale Steyn’s forehead bulged, which is always a sure sign he means business. He did. He and his new ball partner, Kyle Abbott, were helped by two early, magnificently athletic catches which defined South Africa as much as anything else.

The spinners, from whom Sri Lanka thought they might profit, were instead suffocating. Sangakkara, who had scored four successive hundreds before this, needed all his experience but was never fluent or settled. Imran Tahir, a leg-spinner with a devilish googly, was mesmerising, J P Duminy, an off-spinner expected to go for plenty, took a hat-trick.

South Africa clattered their way to the 134 target in 18 overs. A B de Villiers had said they would not follow their forebears by choking, has spoken indeed of when, rather than if, they win the World Cup. He can be believed.

Sangakkara was asked how he would like to be remembered. “Oh, if anyone can say that they’ve enjoyed playing against me and playing with me, I’ll be more than happy.” It was a typically dignified sign-off.

SYDNEY SCOREBOARD

World Cup quarter-final: Sydney Cricket Ground (one day): South Africa beat Sri Lanka by nine wickets

Sri Lanka won toss

SRI LANKA

M D K J Perera c de Kock b Abbott…………… 3

T M Dilshan c du Plessis b Steyn………………. 0

†K C Sangakkara c Miller b Morkel………….45

H D R L Thirimanne c & b Tahir……………….41

D P M D Jayawardene c du Plessis b Tahir…. 4

*A D Mathews c du Plessis b Duminy……….19

N L T C Perera c Rossouw b Tahir……………… 0

K M D N Kulasekara c de Kock b Duminy….. 1

P H T Kaushal lbw b Duminy……………………. 0

P V D Chameera not out………………………….. 2

S L Malinga c Miller b Tahir………………………. 3

Extras (b4 lb2 w7 nb2)…………………………..15

Total (37.2 overs) ……………………………133

Fall 1-3, 2-4, 3-69, 4-81, 5-114, 6-115, 7-116, 8-116, 9-127.

Bowling D W Steyn 7-2-18-1, K J Abbott 6-1-27-1, M Morkel 7-1-27-1, J P Duminy 9-1-29-3, Imran Tahir 8.2-0-26-4.

SOUTH AFRICA

H M Amla c Kulasekara b Malinga……………16

†Q de Kock not out……………………………….78

F du Plessis not out…………………………………21

Extras (lb4 w12 nb3)……………………………..19

Total (for 1, 18 overs) ……………………….134

Fall 1-40.

Did not bat R R Rossouw, *A B de Villiers, D A Miller, J P Duminy, D W Steyn, K J Abbott, M Morkel, Imran Tahir.

Bowling S L Malinga 6-0-43-1, T M Dilshan 2-0-10-0, K M D N Kulasekara 1-0-13-0, P H T Kaushal 6-0-25-0, P V D Chameera 2-0-29-0, N L T C Perera 1-0-10-0.

Umpires N J Llong (Eng) and R J Tucker.

SKY SPORTS SIXES LEAGUE

Yesterday’s World Cup quarter-final between South Africa and Sri Lanka was the first completed match at this year’s tournament not to have a single six scored.

Sixes Balls

A B de Villiers SA 20 289

Chris Gayle WI 18 257

Bren’ McCullum NZ 12 137

Brendan Taylor Zim 12 405

Glenn Maxwell Aus 11 135

David Miller SA 11 215

David Warner Aus 8 211

Shikhar Dhawan India 8 358

Andre Russell WI 7 45

Jason Holder WI 7 112