Sri Lanka who were tipped to be one of the favourites to win this edition of the Champions Trophy found themselves close to getting knocked out following a 78-run defeat in the hands of South Africa. Apart from England, it is now clearly evident that any side can beat the other in this tournament as the pitches although being sluggish in nature have been sporting giving equal opportunity to both batsmen and bowlers.
The Lankans were chasing 220 which was thought to be a moderate target as the two openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga walked in. It wasn’t going to be that easy for the Proteas as the dew was expected to play its part pretty soon. But a tidy spell with the new ball from Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini saw the pair of Jayasuriya and Tharanga bogged down. The pitch now looked difficult to play the free flowing shots. Tharanga who was frustrated by this went for a booming drive on the up and a thick outside edge was spilled down by Jacques Kallis in the slips. It was just the 5th over when Pollock had drawn the first blood trapping Sanath Jayasuriya plumb in front but the umpire Daryl Harper was wrong in giving that out lbw as the ball had pitched marginally outside the legstump. The Proteas were right on top of the batsmen as there were plenty of leading edges, uppish shots as the Lankans became too edgy with the runs not coming at a steady pace.
The South Africans were in the driver’s seat once they picked up three wickets in the space of 26 deliveries to leave their opposition at 34 for 4. There was a resistance following that in form of Jayawardene and Dilshan which was just 44 runs worth as the Sri Lankan Skipper, Jayawardene was magically run out by Pollock in the 25th over. Mahela could make 36 from 50 balls with the help of 4 boundaries and his exit saw his team down and out at 78 for 5. It was too much of a task for the all rounders who couldn’t put any rearguard action and the Sri Lankans folded to 141 all out inside 40 overs. Shaun Pollock finished with 2 for 21 in his 10 while Makhaya Ntini picked up 2 for 24 in 9. Andre Nel the back up seamer was the successful with three wickets.
Early on it was Mahela Jayawardene who had won the toss to put SA to bat first at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera. Both sides had made a change each with SL bringing back Dilhara Fernando for Chamara Kapugedera and SA getting AB de Villiers for Andrew Hall. The Proteas were off to a dismal start losing their top three batsmen with just 30 runs on the board. Any further damage was prevented by Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers who put on a slow 80 for the fourth wicket. Kallis made 43 from 71 balls which had two fours and a six. AB de Villers scored his second half century in his career. He could make 54 from 88 balls with three fours. Shaun Pollock and Robin Peterson were responsible in the end to take their side to 219 for 9. Pollock remained unbeaten on a 17-ball 21 with one six and Peterson smashed a 16-ball 22 which also included a six. Lasith Malinga took four wickets but was expensive going for 53 in 9 overs. Chaminda Vaas was very impressive taking two wickets conceding just 16 runs in his 10 overs.
For his all round efforts, Shaun Pollock was declared as the Man of the Match. Sri Lanka have played all their three group games losing two of them and are virtually out of the tournament. They would be requiring Pakistan to win both their matches against New Zealand and South Africa to have any slender hopes of staying in the tournament.