DELHI: A combined bowling effort after a batting onslaught propelled South Africa to hand a 102-run thrashing to Sri Lanka in their ICC World Cup 2023 campaign opener on Saturday.
Chasing a daunting total of 429, Sri Lanka offered notable fightback as they scored 326 runs all out in response.
Wicketkeeper batter Kusal Mendis scripted Sri Lanka’s flying start to the pursuit despite an early blow in the form of Pathum Nissanka, who fell for a seven-ball duck.
Mendis knitted a one-sided 66-run partnership with Kusal Perera, who could contribute a mere seven before falling in the eighth over.
Mendis’ early fireworks were shortlived after Perera’s departure as he headed back to the pavilion in the 13th over after providing Sri Lanka with a perfect start with a blistering half-century.
He scored 76 in just 42 deliveries, laced with four boundaries and eight sixes.
Charith Asalanka then took the reigns of Sri Lanka’s run chase with a brisk knock and was also involved in a crucial 82-run partnership with captain Dasun Shanaka before finally perishing in the 32nd over.
He top-scored for the Asian side with a 65-ball 79, peppered with eight boundaries and four sixes.
Later, it was captain Shanaka, who kept hopes of pulling off a miraculous run chase alive with his sensational half-century but his efforts eventually turned out to be insufficient as Sri Lanka fell well short of it despite handy contributions from their tailenders.
Shanaka remained a notable run-getter for his side with 68. His 62-ball knock included six boundaries and three sixes.
Gerald Coetzee led the bowling attack for South Africa with 3/68 in his nine overs while Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen bagged two each.
Put into bat first, South Africa caused carnage at Arun Jaitley Stadium here as they racked up a mammoth 428/5 against Sri Lanka — the highest team total in a World Cup game.
The Proteas had a contrasting start to their innings as they lost their captain Temba Bavuma (8) in the second over with just 10 runs on the board.
Following the early slump, Rassie van der Dussen joined Quinton de Kock at the crease to launch an astounding recovery.
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The pair batted sensibly and kept the scoreboard ticking amid their marathon 204-run partnership with both scoring centuries.
The second-wicket partnership pushed Sri Lanka to the backfoot before Matheesha Pathirana finally struck for the Islanders by dismissing de Kock in the 31st over.
The left-handed opener scored 100 off 84 balls with the help of 12 boundaries and three sixes.
Coming out to bat at number four, Aiden Markram turned the game on its head with belligerent hitting and took the reigns of South Africa’s innings.
He put on a brief 50-run partnership with van der Dussen, who perished after top-scoring for South Africa with a 110-ball 108 which featured 13 boundaries and two sixes.
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Markram was then involved in yet another crunch partnership for South Africa when he put together a 78-run stand with Heinrich Klaassen, who played a quickfire 32-run cameo in just 20 balls.
The right-handed batter converted his dominant knock into the fastest World Cup century — a record previously held by Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien (50 balls) — as he reached the milestone in just 49 balls.
His sensational knock finally came to an end in the 48th over when South Africa were still 17 short of the 400-run mark. He smashed 106 in a mere 54 balls, laced up with 14 boundaries and three sixes.
Hard-hitting batter David Miller, with a little support from Marco Jansen’s seven-ball 12, bolstered South Africa’s total in their ICC World Cup 2023 campaign opener with a quickfire 39 in 21 balls which included three boundaries and two sixes.
Dilshan Madushanka bagged two wickets while Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana and Dunith Wellalage picked one apiece for Sri Lanka, who had a game to forget with the ball.