Sri Lanka’s dramatic win over England at Headingley had kept them just about in contention for a semi-final spot at the 2019 World Cup, before an all-round South Africa ran through them in Chester-le-Street to all but end their chances. Here’s Lungani Zama’s report from the 2020 Wisden Almanack.
Sri Lanka v South Africa
Match 35, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street
June 28, 2019
South Africa finally found their touch, displaying a full range of skills to wallop Sri Lanka, whose hopes were all but ended. The tone was set when du Plessis chose to bowl, and caught his opposite number, Karunaratne, off the first ball.
Though Sri Lanka scored 67 in the first powerplay, South Africa never let them get away, and no one topped 30. The pace attack bowled clinically, with all-rounder Pretorius, who had returned in place of Lungi Ngidi for his first game since the opener against England four weeks earlier, claiming three for 25.
South Africa needed only 204; Malinga fired a yorker through de Kock’s defences, but it was Sri Lanka’s only success, and du Plessis finished on 96 as he and Amla cruised to an unbroken stand of 175.
The day’s most memorable image came when the players fell to the ground to avoid a swarm of bees that invaded the field towards the end of Sri Lanka’s innings. Bees had also interrupted a one-day match between these teams at Johannesburg two years earlier.
First published in the 2020 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack