Dubai: Sri Lanka have made their journey difficult, in fact extremely tough, in their path towards the last four stage. Despite being in the run for the semi-finals spot after a lacklustre display so far, the Sri Lankans failed miserably against South Africa to lose by nine wickets.

The turning point of the contest came when Dwaine Pretorius struck twice in his consecutive overs to break the blooming partnership and reduce Sri Lanka from 67 for one to 72 for three. The islanders never recovered from the twin-blow of Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando and kept losing wickets to set a meagre target for South Africa.

The Proteas, on the other hand, showed a nice turn around in their game, however it came way too late. The Faf du Plessis-led squad with many top stars should have been in the running for the last four spot, but they never came together as a team.

One of the main reasons for their turn around in their fortunes could be the team composition. Bringing in all-rounders JP Duminy and Pretorius would have given the team the much-needed depth in batting and that confidence would have helped Hashim Amla and du Plessis to play their natural game more freely.

Though it is an inconsequential match for South Africa, the victory would give the embattled team a big boost to their confidence as they take on Australia in their final group game on July 6.

Sri Lanka need to blame themselves for the defeat as they have not performed as a team. The win against England, the only major team they defeated while the other win came against Afghanistan, was the hard work of their two battle-scarred veterans.

Angelo Mathews, who in the company of the tail-enders, gave Sri Lanka a decent total, while Lasith Malinga brought out his best to give the necessary breakthrough for the others to catch the hosts napping for a narrow win.

So for in this World Cup, there were some individual brilliance among the Sri Lankan team ranks but not a sustained effort. The junior players have not stood up to be counted, even when they were presented with a rare opportunity on the big stage, which is a worrying factor for Sri Lanka’s future.

Sri Lanka need to defeat West Indies and India and, depending on the other results, they stand a slim mathematical chance of qualifying. But they need almost a miracle to achieve that. Sri Lanka will be blaming themselves for the missed opportunity.