DURHAM   -  An unbroken century stand between Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla salvaged some pride for South Africa as they thrashed Sri Lanka by nine wickets in Durham.

The Proteas were already out of the World Cup semi-final reckoning after winning just one of their first seven fixtures, but they doubled that tally at the Riverside, chasing down the target of 204 with 12.4 overs to spare. Captain Du Plessis struck 96 not out from 103 deliveries, sharing a second-wicket partnership of 175 with Amla (80 from 105), with both players registering their highest scores of the tournament to date.

Sri Lanka’s defeat all but snuffs out their prospects of qualifying for the last four, barring an unlikely sequence of results in the remaining group games. Having won the toss, Du Plessis put Sri Lanka in - and they made the worst possible start when captain Dimuth Karunaratne misjudged Kagiso Rabada’s first ball and gloved it to second slip.

However, Avishka Fernando - who had struck a bubbly 49 in his side’s win against England - took up the baton again in the powerplay, accumulating 30 from 29 balls. He and Kusal Perera (30) added 67 for the second wicket before the pair both departed in successive overs from the impressive Dwaine Pretorius, who marked his return to the side with figures of 3-25.

Sri Lanka’s innings soon ground to a virtual standstill and they failed to register a boundary in more than 17 overs, with a succession of batsmen getting starts before becoming bogged down and surrendering their wickets. Dhananjaya de Silva (24) seemed well set, only to be bowled attempting an ill-judged reverse sweep at JP Duminy’s first ball as Sri Lanka to slid to 135-6. Thisara Perera (21) and Isuru Udana (17) ensured that their side did not fold completely and they clambered above 200 before Chris Morris (3-46) wrapped up the innings with three balls unused.

Sri Lanka urgently needed to capture wickets in the powerplay, but they managed just one - although it was a beauty, with Quinton de Kock (15) castled by Lasith Malinga’s inswinging yorker. However, Malinga generally struggled to find his line, straying towards leg too frequently and allowing Amla to stroke a series of crisp boundaries off his pads.

Du Plessis made a cautious start, but gradually settled into the groove and began to use his feet, crashing Suranga Lakmal for fours on both sides of the wicket. Karunaratne switched his bowlers around regularly in a bid to break the partnership, but without success as Du Plessis started to open up and outscored his partner.

It looked as if Jeevan Mendis had made the breakthrough when Amla, on 68, tried to sweep him and was given out leg before - only for the decision to be overturned on review, with the batsman already halfway to the pavilion. It made little difference to the outcome and Du Plessis finished proceedings off by leg-glancing Udana for four.

Scorecard

SRI LANKA :

D Karunaratne c du Plessis b Rabada 0

K Perera b Pretorius 30

A Fernando c du Plessis b Pretorius 30

K Mendis c Morris b Pretorius 23

A Mathews b Morris 11

D de Silva b Duminy 24

J Mendis c Pretorius b Morris 18

T Perera c Rabada b Phehlukwayo 21

I Udana c & b Rabada 17

S Lakmal not out 5

L Malinga c du Plessis b Morris 4

EXTRAS: (b 4, lb 3, w 13) 20

TOTAL: (all out, 49.3 overs) 203

FOW: 1-0, 2-67, 3-72, 4-100, 5-111, 6-135, 7-163, 8-184, 9-197, 10-203.

BOWLING: K Rabada 10-2-36-2, CH Morris 9.3-0-46-3, D Pretorius 10-2-25-3, AL Phehlukwayo 8-0-38-1, Imran Tahir 10-0-36-0, JP Duminy 2-0-15-1.

SOUTH AFRICA:

Q de Kock b Malinga 15

H Amla not out 80

F du Plessis not out 96

EXTRAS: (lb 1, w 14) 15

TOTAL: (1 wkt, 37.2 overs) 206

FOW: 1-31

BOWLING: SL Malinga 10-1-47-1, DM de Silva 4-0-18-0, RAS Lakmal 6-0-47-0, NLTC Perera 5.2-1-28-0, BMAJ Mendis 7-0-36-0, I Udana 5-0-29-0.

TOSS: South Africa

UMPIRES: Rod Tucker, Sundaram Ravi

TV UMPIRES: Bruce Oxenford

RESERVE UMPIRE: Paul Reiffel

MATCH REFEREE: David Boon

POINTS TABLE

Pos Team Played Won Lost N/R Points Net RR

1 AUSTRALIA 7 6 1 0 12 +0.906

2 INDIA 6 5 0 1 11 +1.160

3 NEW ZEALAND 7 5 1 1 11 +1.028

4 ENGLAND 7 4 3 0 8 +1.051

5 BANGLADESH 7 3 3 1 7 -0.133

6 PAKISTAN 7 3 3 1 7 -0.976

7 SRI LANKA 7 2 3 2 6 -1.186

8 SOUTH AFRICA 8 2 5 1 5 -0.080

9 WEST INDIES 7 1 5 1 3 -0.320

10 AFGHANISTAN 7 0 7 0 0 -1.634