Hambantota: South Africa captain AB de Villiers hit a breezy 30 and his seamers pinned down Sri Lanka's batsmen to produce a comfortable 32-run win over the hosts in a rain-shortened World Twenty20 match on Saturday.
De Villiers faced 13 balls and led from the front with a four and two sixes in South Africa's healthy 78 for 4 total after rain reduced the last Group C match to seven overs per side. Dale Steyn (2 for 10) bowled well upfront as the hosts finished at 46 for 5.
The result did not stop both the teams from advancing to the Super Eights after they recorded victories over Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka defeated the African team by 82 runs while South Africa won by 10 wickets.
Sri Lanka will be placed in Group 1 of the Super Eights while South Africa will be in Group 2.
"Beating Sri Lanka is nice because they are one of the best teams in the world," de Villiers said. "Now we are ready to go for the Super Eights. We didn't take anything for granted in this match."
It was an anti-climax for a sellout crowd of 35,000 at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, who waited for 2-1/2 hours to see the contest among two evenly matched teams.
Sri Lanka's innings never found any sort of momentum with Tillakaratne Dilshan run out without a ball being faced and captain Mahela Jayawardene holing out in the deep after scoring just one boundary to become one of two victims for Steyn.
Kumar Sangakkara (13) was twice dropped but could not capitalize on the chances as all the South African bowlers — including spinner Johan Botha — bowled to a perfect line and length and never allowed Sri Lanka's batsmen to get going.
Earlier, after being sent in to bat first, South Africa lost Richard Levi (4) in the very first over when Dilshan Munaweera took a brilliant running catch at wide midwicket.
Hashim Amla (13) hit three boundaries before he was stumped by Sangakkara, but the arrival of de Villiers virtually silenced the big crowd.
De Villiers lofted Rangana Herath for a straight six and then dispatched Lasith Malinga over the midwicket fence as he added a rapid 38 runs off 18 balls together with Faf du Plessis (13) by converting singles into twos.
JP Dumminy hit a four and a six off Thisara Perera's last over of the innings that gave the Proteas enough runs to defend.
Sri Lanka also badly missed their star finger spinner Ajantha Mendis, who didn't play on Saturday because of a side strain after returning figures of 6 for 8 against Zimbabwe.
"It's tough in a rain-reduced match and since we didn't want to take risk on Ajantha Mendis, we were one quality bowler short," Jayawardene said.