Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis made the Standard Bank Proteas two highest individual scores of the ICC Cricket World Cup to lead the way to a nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka with 76 balls to spare in their penultimate match at Chester-le-Street on Friday.
With the Proteas producing by far their most positive and convincing batting of the tournament the pair also shared South Africa’s biggest partnership of the series of 175 off 206 balls.
It was only South Africa’s second century partnership at the World Cup, improving on the 104 between Amla and Quinton de Kock against Afghanistan.
Amla finished on 85 (105 balls, 5 fours) and Du Plessis on 96 (103 balls, 10 fours and a six). It was Amla’s second half-century at the tournament and Du Plessis’ third.
In a complete all-round performance, the bowlers also played their part, managing to dismiss Sri Lanka inside the 50 overs for 203.
Sri Lanka, who had been sent into bat after Du Plessis had won the toss, dominated the first 10 overs of the match, reaching 67/2 at the end of the first power play but the Proteas were totally in charge of the remainder of the contest as Sri Lanka lost their last 9 wickets for 136 runs.
This was in no small part due to the contribution of Man of the Match Dwaine Pretorius whose only previous outing at the World Cup had been almost a month ago in the tournament opener against England.
After taking 1/17 in his first three overs, he then took 2/8 in his remaining seven to finish with the outstanding figures of 3/25 from 10. This included a remarkable 46 dot balls which must constitute a record of some sort.
Ironically, the only one of the six bowlers employed not to take a wicket was Imran Tahir who has been their standout performer in this discipline throughout the tournament.
The Proteas made two changes from the side that had played the last few matches with Pretorius replacing Lungi Ngidi and JP Duminy taking the place of the injured David Miller.
The Proteas play their final match against Australia at Old Trafford, Manchester, next Saturday.