Nortje's fiery 4/7 headlines South Africa's commanding win over Sri Lanka

South Africa's Anrich Nortje reacts after bowling his last over during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Monday, June 3, 2024.
South Africa's Anrich Nortje reacts after bowling his last over during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Monday, June 3, 2024.

New York | Anrich Nortje demolished Sri Lanka with career-best figures of 4/7 as South Africa exploited the bounce on offer to secure a six-wicket win in their T20 World Cup opener here on Monday.

At a venue where India will play three of their four Group A league matches, Sri Lanka's decision to bat first backfired.

Nortje, Kagiso Rabada (2/21) and Keshav Maharaj (2/22) combined to take eight wickets in a dominant bowling performance as Sri Lanka folded up for 77 in 19.1 overs, their lowest T20 total.

But it was not a walk in the park for South Africa in the challenging conditions of Nassau Stadium as the Proteas had to sweat it out after Sri Lanka reduced them to 27/2 inside the powerplay.

Sri Lankan wrist spinner Wanindu Hasaranga led their bowling show with his 2/17 from three overs, taking the wickets of Quinton De Kock (20) and Tristan Stubbs (13) in successive overs.

But the lack of scoreboard pressure meant South Africa knocked off the target in 16.2 overs to get a major boost to their net run-rate.

South Africa now have two points with a NRR of 1.048 to lead the Group D standings. Bangladesh, Nepal and the Netherlands are the other teams in the group.

The in-form Heinrich Klaasen smashed Hasaranga for a massive six over long-on and followed it up with a straight boundary to bring up 11 runs in the the 15th over and virtually kill the contest.

Nuwan Thusara drew the first blood for Sri Lanka in the second over when he induced an outside edge from Reeza Hendricks with an outswinger.

Mathews then gave Aiden Markram some tough time and also hit the South African skipper awkwardly in the abdomen region that required some medical attention.

A spectacular six through covers from Markram broke the shackles but he was out the next over from Dasun Shanaka with Kamindu Mendis pulling off a stunning catch at slip.

Nortje bowled full tilt to lead the four-pronged pace attack and bettered his previous best T20 figures of 4/10.

Kagiso Rabada returned with 2/21, while wily left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj also relished the conditions to end up with 2/22.

The drop-in pitch at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium proved to be a nightmare for the Lankan batters who struggled to time the ball while the outfield too was slow.

The Proteas attack, on the other hand, revelled in the friendly conditions, beginning with a first-ball wicket for Ottneil Baartman who returned with remarkable figures of 1/9 on his World Cup debut.

The rookie pacer hit the deck hard, and induced an edge off Pathum Nissanka (3) from a fullish delivery that swung away and also had some bounce.

Nortje was fast and furious and also got a wicket off his first over when Kamindu Mendis mistimed a pull to make it 31/2 inside eight overs.

There was also help for spinners, as Maharaj struck twice in successive deliveries, dismissing skipper Wanindu Hasaranga and Sadeera Samarawickrama.

Half of the side was back in the hut at the midway mark with Nortje taking his second after Kusal Mendis mistimed a pull.

Veteran Angelo Mathews looked most comfortable and made a 16-ball 16 before Nortje dismissed him for his fourth scalp.

Nuwan Thushara's run-out ended their innings in 19.1 overs.

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