Hambantota: South Africa topped Group C after skipper A B de Villiers led them to a 32-run victory over Sri Lanka in a rain-curtailed match of the ICC World Twenty20 here on Saturday.
South Africa rode on De Villiers' 13-ball 30 to post 78 for four after the match was reduced to a seven-over-a-side affair. In reply, the Sri Lankans were restricted to 46 for five as the Protea bowlers took centrestage at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium.
The loss meant Sri Lanka will enter the Super Eight stage as the second best team from the group.
Besides de Villiers, Hashim Amla (16), Faf du Plessis (13) and JP Duminy (12) chipped in with important runs to lay the foundation for a comfortable win, after being put in to bat.
In what was the first international T20 match between the two sides, the hosts always had a tough task at hands after the Proteas set a stiff target. It became even more difficult after the Lankans lost openers - captain Mahela Jayawardene (4) and Tillakaratner Dilshan (0) - cheaply.
The Sri Lankan batsmen simply failed to find their ground, even as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis came up with tremendous bowling efforts to restrict the opponents.
The bowlers managed to tightened the noose further and the likes of Dilshan Munaweera, Kumar Sangakara (13) and Thisara Perera (1) could never get the momentum going.
Steyn finished with impressive figures of two for 10 from as many overs.
Earlier, South Africa also did not have an ideal start as Nuwan Kulasekara dismissed opener Richard Levi (4) in the very first over, when Dilshan Munaweera took a brilliant diving catch going back from mid on.
With the match reduced to just seven overs, Amla quickly got into the groove, stealing three boundaries before his nine-ball cameo was cut short by Rangana Herath.
But de Villiers took over from where Amla left, and in the able company of Faf du Plessis, sent the bowlers on a leather hunt.
Besides hitting fours and sixes off loose deliveries, he chipped in with the twos and threes to keep the scoreboard moving.
His knock was studded with a four and two sixes. It came to an end when he mistimed a shot off Malinga's bowling.
Plessis was quick to follow his partner to the dressing room.
But JP Duminy made sure that his skipper's good work did not go waste. He hit a four and a six in the last two balls of the innings to take the team past the 75-run mark.
Sri Lanka: Dilshan Munaweera, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga.
South Africa: Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, F du Plessis, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn.