The Proteas produced the most complete performance yet in the World Cup to beat Sri Lanka, says SuperSport pundit Kepler Wessels.
Reviewing the Proteas nine-wicket win in the quarter-final in Sydney, he said: ‘We always talk about peaking at the right time in the knockout phase and that was peaking. We have been crying out for a good, convincing bowling performance. We got that. And the one player who had been out of form, Quinton de Kock, played superbly well in the run-chase, so that was the perfect performance.
‘The bowlers set it up, aided by some good captaincy by AB de Villiers, who gave the seamers free rein,’ said Wessels.
‘We needed some aggression and some swing; some good lines and length, and Dale Steyn, particularly, was phenomenal.
‘It just goes to show how important the early overs are: if you are going to win games, especially in the knockout phases, you have to strike early and it was important that we got early wickets.
‘AB’s captaincy was excellent, too. He used the [seam] bowlers in longer spells, which takes the pressure off the spinners.
‘I admit, that it was not as good a pitch as I thought it was; it looked to be more of a 240-250, rather than the 300-plus I thought it would be. But the South African bowlers did a magnificent job.
‘That said, [Kumar] Sangakkara will look back and think he should have scored quicker. He was in a difficult position because with those early wickets he couldn’t allow himself to get out. He got himself into a hole and he couldn’t get out of it.’
That, though, Wessels added, was an indication of just how much pressure South Africa put Sri Lanka under.
‘The success of Sangakkara previously [he scored four centuries in a row] played a part in this failure, because he had dominated so much, and he couldn’t do that today; but you cannot underestimate the pressure the South African bowlers put the top order under.
‘When they reflect on this, they may say ”we played really badly”. Yes, they did but they were put under enormous pressure.’
Wessels feels that the Proteas have now found the right team. ‘The attack is beginning to gel and I see no reason to change anything,’ he concluded.