Sri Lanka got their World Twenty20 campaign off to a winning start with a keenly-fought five-run win over South Africa in Chittagong.
Batting first, Sri Lanka posted 165-7 in their 20 overs, a score set up by Kusal Perera's dashing 61 and finished by skipper Angelo Mathews' 43.
In response South Africa began steadily, but there weren't enough telling contributions across the batting order to get them home, and they pulled up just short.
|World T20: Sri Lanka vs. South Africa Scorecard|
|Sri Lanka Innings|
|K Perera||c AB de Villiers||b Tahir||61||63||40|
|M Jayawardene||c Steyn||b M Morkel||9||16||9|
|Sangakkara||c Tsotsobe||b Tahir||14||23||18|
|Chandimal||st de Kock||b Tahir||12||15||9|
|T Perera||b M Morkel||8||8||6|
|N Kulasekara||not out||7||8||4|
|Extras||0nb 7w 3b 0lb||10|
|Total||for 7||165||(20.0 ovs)|
|South Africa Innings|
|de Kock||b Malinga||25||18||18|
|Amla||c Dilshan||b Senanayake||23||41||26|
|Duminy||c Dilshan||b Senanayake||39||45||30|
|AB de Villiers||c Sangakkara||b Mathews||24||14||16|
|Miller||run out (Chandimal)||19||33|
|A Morkel||c Chandimal||b A Mendis||12||5||4|
|Behardien||c M Jayawardene||b N Kulasekara||5||3|
|Steyn||run out (Mathews)||0||6||2|
|M Morkel||not out||0||0|
|Extras||0nb 2w 0b 3lb||5|
|Total||for 7||160||(20.0 ovs)|
The Proteas went in without their captain Faf du Plessis, who had not recovered from a hamstring injury, though Dale Steyn was passed fit and entrusted with the first over.
Perera took him for 17 in the first five balls before Steyn atoned by removing Tillakaratne Dilshan with the final ball of the over.
It summed up the match—momentum for one side suddenly, inexplicably cancelled by the other.
Aside from Perera and Mathews, there was precious little from the islanders with the willow, with veterans Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara falling cheaply, and Imran Tahir starring with the ball with figures of 3-26.
The chase looked like it would be close, and so it proved.
Quinton de Kock supplied a bright start with an 18-ball 25 before being yorked by Lasith Malinga. Hashim Amla, meanwhile, anchored with a 26-ball 23 which lacked fluency.
JP Duminy and stand-in skipper AB de Villiers appeared to have rescued the innings, only for both to fall when well set.
That brought Albie Morkel to the middle, and he cracked two sixes before his four-ball innings came to an end.
With 29 runs required from 18 balls and two fresh batsmen at the crease, the game was finely poised, but with Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara both skilled death bowlers, panic mode set in for South Africa, as evidenced by two run outs in the final two overs.
The loss may not be terminal for South Africa's hopes—they will fancy their chances against New Zealand, England and the Netherlands in their remaining games—but it represents a huge boost for Sri Lanka, who are amongst the favourites for the trophy in familiar subcontinental conditions.
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