Prem Panicker | Scorecard
Four wickets in four balls from Sri Lanka speedster Lasith Malinga could not prevent South Africa from registering a thrilling one-wicket victory in the World Cup Super Eights match on Wednesday.
He dismissed Shaun Pollock, Andre Hall, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini in successive deliveries as South Africa, chasing 210 for victory, slumped from 206 for 5 to 207 for 9 before escaping with a narrow win.
Earlier, fast bowler Charl Langeveldt claimed a career-best five for 39 and Herschelle Gibbs produced a marvellous diving run-out to dismiss Sri Lanka for 209 in 49.3 overs.
Sri Lanka innings:
Till just the other day, the Providence Stadium in Georgetown, Guyana, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, most of them centering around delayed completion schedules.
Today the $30 million ground, built largely with Indian funding, put on its best face for the Super Eights clash between Sri Lanka and South Africa.
South Africa is in the Super Eights on the back-foot, having lost the game, and with it the points, to Australia in the first phase. Another defeat here, and South Africa's chances of qualifying for the semis become bleaker.
Sri Lanka have the extra points, thanks to its win over fellow qualifier Bangladesh in the first phase. A win here will see it improve its semifinal prospects considerably.
With all that at stake, and on a pitch that looked quite flat and bald, Mahela Jayawardene ignored any early morning advantage the bowlers might get from overnight rains and a shower or two this morning, and opted for first strike on winning the toss.
Clearly, his game plan was built around trying to use his spinners, in the second half of the game, to strangle the Proteas - a good enough strategy, but for it to work the Lankans needed a great start, especially from the inspirational Sanath Jayasuriya.
It was Upul Tharanga who got out of the blocks in a hurry, but he was also the first to go. Makhaya Ntini, settling into a dream spell that married pace with control and delayed movement off the seam, got one to land on length and angle across the left hander. The length brought Tharanga forward, playing at the ball; the deviation caught the edge, and Justin Kemp at first slip went low to hold (12/13; 13/1)
Photographs: Getty Images
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