Clinical Proteas silence critics

HARARE - South Africa shrugged the proverbial monkey off their backs in fine style when they sent Sri Lanka crashing out of the World Cup with an all-round clinical performance at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in front of a 27 000 stunned crowd yesterday.

So many questions, theories and suggestions were bantered about as these two teams prepared for their crucial quarter-final match.

Would South Africa once again go home with the chokers label firmly tied around their necks?

Would the Proteas once again have to rely on their two superstar players AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla to deliver the goods?

Would the contest be decided between the two highest run scorers of the tournament, de Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara?

Would this quarter-final match be the perfect swan song for both Sangakkara and his best mate Mahela Jayawardene?

None of the above happened, and to a large extent detracted from the clinical performance the South Africans produced to advance to the semi-finals.

This doesn’t by any means suggest that nobody was impressed with South Africa’s performance, on the contrary!

South Africa’s nine wicket demolition job was a performance that once again reminded millions of cricket fans as to why the Proteas have become such a much respected and admired team by so many around the world.

Morne Morkel was back to his very best, but as is so often the case, was unrewarded, despite his searing pace, and his hostile bounce on the SCG pitch.

Instead, it was the spin duo of JP Duminy, 3-29 which included a hat-trick, and Imran Tahir, who deservedly bagged the man-of-the-match award with figures of 4-26 ripped through the middle and lower order of Sri Lanka.

The SCG has delivered some surprises in the past, when teams have occasionally defended low totals, but there was no such luck for Angelo Mathews and his men, as South Africa went about their business without breaking a sweat.

Quinton de Kock found his rhythm again, and truth be told, never looked as if he had lost his form, as he majestically stroked the ball to all corners of the ground.

What was so impressive about de Kock’s innings, is that at no time did he try to over hit the ball.

When players have been struggling for form, we often see them trying to regain their form by muscling the ball instead of stroking it, which often leads to them either getting out, or getting a few lucky runs via the inside or outside edge of their bat.

De Kock however, was as composed, or at least gave the impression of being composed by placing the ball into gaps and beating the field time and time again.

Today’s quarter-final between India and Bangladesh has already been described as a one-sided affair and that despite their heroic efforts, the Tigers will probably be watching the rest of the World Cup from the comfort of their lounges back home.

Although this may very well be the case, it always saddens me to see people take such a stance, especially when a lesser team has done so well to get to the quarter-finals.

Bangladesh have played some outstanding cricket for some time now, and although you find it hard to see them disrupting the Indian machine, the Tigers have time and time again shown us that they are capable of causing upsets when it really matters.

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