World Twenty20: Kushal Perera blazes away before South Africa fall just short

Sri Lanka 165-7 bt South Africa 160-8

Chittagong

Sri Lanka held their nerve to defeat South Africa in the opening match of Group One in the World Twenty20. The margin of five runs, however, was an indication of how close this tournament promises to be.

Qualification for the semi-final stages is likely to be by a fag-paper width; for several periods of their pursuit of 166 to win South Africa seemed to be in control, but the loss of wickets crucially undermined them.

The way in which Sri Lanka set about their innings after winning the toss suggested a total of above 180 was in their ambit. But the failure of all their veteran big guns – Tillekeratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara – forced their less experienced colleagues to regroup.

The opener Kushal Perera made 61 from 40 balls, including 17 from the first over of the match, bowled by Dale Steyn. Had Perera gone on, Sri Lanka might have achieved their initial objective, but his dismissal in the 14th over left them slightly adrift in the closing stages. Steyn’s bowling then, full of well-directed yorkers, exemplified what a smart operator he remains.

It seemed about par, and South Africa marshalled their batting resources well at first. Quinton de Kock set off with abandon, and his departure brought in J-P Duminy to play the aggressor’s role. Duminy and Hashim Amla put on 50 in six overs for the second wicket, and when a restrained Amla was out AB de Villiers came in to keep the board ticking over at a lick.

But De Villiers edged carelessly behind, Duminy underestimated the wily spin of Sachithra Senanayake to be caught in the deep and South Africa had to start again. The returning Albie Morkel, whose career had seemed done and dusted, showed why he has revived it by hitting two successive sixes off Ajantha Mendis.

Unfortunately, in trying for the hat-trick he demonstrated why it might have started declining in the first place. At that stage the shot was not needed, and Dinesh Chandimal judged the boundary catch beautifully.

With Lasith Malinga up their sleeve in the final overs, Sri Lanka must have known the match was theirs to lose. They are accustomed to tight finishes in a way that South Africa down the years have never quite mastered. Ten runs from the 18th over left 18 needed from two. But a catch in the deep and two run-outs made a difficult task impossible.

Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there