Cricket Cricket

No choking as Proteas blaze to semis


STEYN-QUARTERSSYDNEY, March 18- South Africa stormed into the World Cup semi-finals Wednesday with a nine-wicket rout of Sri Lanka which brought the curtain down on the ODI careers of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Off-spinner JP Duminy (3-29) took a hat-trick and leg-spinner Imran Tahir claimed 4-26 as South Africa, who had never before won a World Cup knockout match, set up a clash against either New Zealand or West Indies for a place in the March 29 final.

Chasing just 134 to win, the Proteas reached their target in the 18th over with opener Quinton de Kock making an undefeated 78.

Sangakkara, in his last one-day international appearance, top-scored for Sri Lanka with 45 as his record-breaking run of four successive ODI hundreds came to an end. Together with Lahiru Thirimanne (41) he put on 65 for the third wicket.

Fellow veteran Jayawardene, who now quits all international cricket, made only four before he became one of Tahir’s victims as 1996 champions Sri Lanka lost their last six wickets for just 19 runs.

South Africa skipper AB de Villiers, who lost the toss, said he feels his team can now go on and win an elusive first World Cup.

“I’m quietly confident. I’m always a positive kind of guy — I always believe in big things,” he said.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews admitted his team suffered severe stagefright.

“A score of 130 was not much. There were no demons on this track. But we didn’t bat well. Maybe it was nerves, we didn’t go for our shots and it’s easily our worst performance we have done in the World Cup and it happened to be in the quarter-final,” he said.

Duminy said he was shocked to have become the first South African to take a World Cup hat-trick.

“I’ve never got close to a hat-trick so I’m pretty pleased with that performance. It was mainly about keeping the runs down,” said Duminy, who dismissed Mathews and then, at the start of his next over, got rid of Kulasekara and Tharindu Kaushal lbw for a golden duck on his one-day debut.

After Kyle Abbott and Dale Steyn sent back openers Kusal Perera and Tillakaratne Dilshan, it was the turn of Pakistan-born spinner Tahir to strike, dismissing Thirimanne and Jayawardene.

Man-of-the-match Tahir also got rid of Thisara Perera (0) before wrapping up proceedings with the wicket of Lasith Malinga.

-Bangladesh battle-

Bangladesh insist they will have nothing to fear from defending champions India when they face off in front of around 90,000 fans at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday.

The odds are stacked against them, however, as Bangladesh have beaten their illustrious neighbours just three times in 28 meetings.

“Tomorrow will be a high-scoring match on a flat pitch. We have to bowl well,” said skipper Mushrafe Mortaza.

Friday sees four-time champions Australia face 1992 winners Pakistan who suffered a major setback Tuesday when giant fast bowler Mohammad Irfan was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a stress fracture of the pelvis.

Australia have called in former World Cup winning skipper Steve Waugh to give pep talks to the squad.

“It was good to sit down over dinner with him and just chat about cricket and World Cups,” opening batsman Aaron Finch revealed.

“He’s obviously captained a winning one and played in another one as well. There are not many better-credentialed players to talk to about it.”

The winner of that Adelaide match will face either India or Bangladesh for a place in the final.

The West Indies are sweating on the fitness of star opener Chris Gayle who has been laid low by a back injury ahead of their quarter-final against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.

Former captain Darren Sammy turned to boxing to illustrate his belief that the West Indies can shock favourites New Zealand.

“I remember some guy called Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson and it’s a case of that on Saturday,” said Sammy