The Proteas romped to a nine-wicket win in the quarter-final clash in Sydney, securing their first victory in a World Cup playoff to book their place in the semifinals. “I truly believe we’re going to go all the way, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, but we know there’s a long way to go,” De Villiers said in his post-match interview. “I just spoke to Morne (Morkel) who loves fishing and I said it’s almost like we’ve got the fish on the hook, but now the hard work starts. We’ve got to reel it in.”
“We have two massive games hopefully coming up, but for now we’ll just enjoy a beer and think of what’s to come.”
The Proteas, spearheaded by Quinton de Kock, reached 134/1 from just 18 overs after the bowling attack had combined well to dismiss the Sri Lankans for 133 runs. De Kock found some crucial form, with the selectors maintaining their faith in the opener, as he carried them home by racing to 78 not out off 57 balls for his fifth ODI half-century.
Faf du Plessis remained unbeaten on 21, while Hashim Amla was the only SA batsman to fall, after he was caught by Nuwan Kulasekara for 16 runs in the seventh over. Earlier, Sri Lanka were placed on the back foot after they won the toss and chose to bat. Fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Kyle Abbott struck early to remove openers Kusal Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan within the first five overs, and the sub-continent outfit never really recovered.
Lahiru Thirimanne made 41 off 48 balls to lead a mini-recovery, but spinners Imran Tahir and JP Duminy took control in the middle stages of the innings, ripping through the Sri Lankan line-up to leave them reeling. Kumar Sangakkara, playing his final ODI along with fellow veteran Mahela Jayawardene, carried the lower order, contributing a patient 45 off 96. He eventually came unstuck, however, when he was removed by fast bowler Morne Morkel in the 37th over.
Tahir, the Man of the Match, returned 4/26 to spearhead the Proteas attack, while Duminy took 3/29. Duminy removed Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, Kulasekara and debutant Tharindu Kaushal with successive deliveries, across two overs, to become the first SA player to take a hat-trick in a World Cup match.