The tragedy of South Africa’s World Cup campaigns has found its place in cricketing folklore already. The quality of Sri Lanka cricket has dropped significantly over the last decade due to the retirements of their world-class stars. Yet, these two nations came to India with strong squads full of match winners. Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi was the place where the dramas of their first World Cup fixture of the 2023 World Cup unfurled.
South Africa started the World Cup campaign without their inspirational fast bowler Ainrich Nortje. Injuries forced the Lankans to make several changes to their World Cup team.
- Quinton de Kock 2. Temba Bavuma (Cap.) 3. Rassie van der Dussen 4. Aiden Markram (Cap.) 5. Heinrich Klassen 6. David Miller 7. Marco Jansen 8. Gerald Coetzee 9. Keshav Maharaj 10. Kagiso Rabada 11. Lungi Ngidi
- Pathum Nissanka 2. Kusal Perera 3. Kusal Mendis (WK) 4. Sadeera Samarawickrama 5. Charith Asalanka 6. Dhananjaya de Silva 7. Dasun Shanaka 8. Dunith Wellalage 9. Matheesha Pathirana 10. Dishan Madhushanka 11. Kasun Rajitha
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka won the coin toss and elected to bowl first.
Captaincy & Tactics
Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanka could not find any way to stop the demolition job. His decision to bowl first turned out to be a fatal one as South Africa broke record after record on their way to a mammoth total. Sri Lankan bowlers were erratic regarding line and length.
Bavuma’s treatment of Coetzee was impressive throughout the Sri Lankan innings. The Protea skipper brought back his quick bowler to clean up the tail after Jansen was put to the sword. Sri Lanka batted with intent but it was a too steep mountain to climb.
It was a day of breaking old records in Delhi. This was the highest total in World Cup history (428). This is the only occasion in the World Cup where three different batsmen scored a century. Markram scored the quickest century in World Cups. The 107 boundaries are the highest in a single match.
Aiden Markram has introduced a new way of batting in ODI cricket. It is not all about blind slogging, but finding the boundaries regularly with a degree of control. He scored 106 runs with an overall control of 91% at a strike rate of 196.29. It just took him 15 balls to reach from half-century to three figures. The right-hander took 26 runs off a Matheesha Pathirana over, but overall there were only 3 sixes hit in his innings.
Rassie van der Dussen is statistically one of the best batsmen over the last five years with an astounding average of 58.29 and a healthy 89.40 runs per 100 balls. The late bloomer smashed the ball all around the park with an impressive all-round wagon wheel.
He reached his 5th ODI century in 103 balls while constructing a partnership of 204 runs with Quinton de Kock. De Kock brought his 18th century and immediately got out to start his last World Cup mission.
The early phase of the Sri Lankan innings was all about Kusal Mendis. The explosive batsman reached 50 runs with no other batsman contributing a single run to the total. He nonchalantly whacked the ball to the leg side, 83% of his total runs came on that side of the ground.
Charith Asalanka hit four and Shanaka hit three sixes to entertain the Kotla crowd. They were picking on the length balls, depositing them over the midwicket region. Kasun Rajitha scored 33 from 31 to reduce the deficit.
The bowlers had a torrid time out in the middle. Matheesha Pathirana had a World Cup debut to forget by conceding 95 runs from 10 overs. The Lankan bowlers were also culpable of giving too many extras, with 21 of them coming from wide balls. Madhushanka trapped Bavuma in front in the second over was the only moment of respite for the bowlers. They bowled short and were duly punished with 14 sixes.
Gerald Coetzee was drafted in to replace Ainrich Nortje to add some firepower to the South African bowling line-up. The young man repaid the faith of the selectors with a magnificent display of fast bowling. The 23-year-old has already claimed 14 wickets in 7 matches at 28.00. Two of his three wickets came while pitching the ball on a shortish good length. Jansen claimed two wickets but was expensive with 92 runs from 10 overs.
The Lankan fielders spent most of the innings retrieving balls from the boundary line. There were a couple of difficult half-catching chances and a nearly missed direct hit. All of the Proteas batsmen were caught except Bavuma.
Heinrich Klaasen completed a good catch to send Kusal Mendis on his way. Markram and Jansen also held on to their chances impressively to back up the bowlers.
It was all about the dazzling strokes of the first half. Quinton de Kock scored a century, and so did Rassie van der Dussen. Aiden Markram stole all the spotlight with the quickest World Cup century ever. All the Sri Lankan bowlers suffered heavy beating, Madushanka was the pick of them with 2 scalps.
Kusal Mendis was batting with fire in his belly, his quickfire 76 kept Sri Lanka on track. Charith Asalanka tried his best with a stroke-filled innings of 79 of his own, but it was never going to be enough. Skipper Dasun Shanaka staged a late revival with 68, and Sri Lanka eventually finished well short of the desired target. Speedstar Gerald Coetzee hit the deck hard and claimed three wickets.
Sri Lanka lost Nissanka early but Kusal Mendis unleashes his explosive self to keep the asking rate in check. Sri Lanka was on the score of 109-2 after 12.3 overs. Kusal Mendis was batting on 76 and looked to match the South African epic batting performance.
Kagiso Rabada delivered the ball just around the 5th stump line and Mendis threw a hard punch at it. The ball found the outside edge, keeper Heinrich gleefully completed the catch. The nearly unachievable target looked more impossible with the inspirational figure of Mendis leaving the field.
South Africa emerged victorious in the run-fest by a margin of 102 runs.
Player of the Match
For his blistering record ton, Aiden Markram was given the man of the match award.
|South Africa Total: 428/5 (50 overs)||Sri Lanka Total: 326/10 (44.5 overs)|
|Rassie van der Dussen 108 (110)||Charith Asalanka 79 (65)|
|Aiden Markram 106 (54)||Kusal Mendis 76 (42)|
|Dilshan Madhushanka 2/86||Gerald Koetzee 3/68|
|Dunith Wellalage 1/81||Kagiso Rabada 2/50|
South Africa’s record batting performance is one for the record books. Sri Lanka lost the game but they went down with all guns blazing. A triplet of tons took the game out of Lanka’s reach. The game was decided just after the first innings. It will be intriguing to see whether South Africa can carry on in this fashion or if it is just a flash-in-the-pan random performance. Sri Lanka will need to reevaluate their tactics before they meet Pakistan in Hyderabad on Tuesday.