TANGIER-With three innings of substance from the first four top order batsmen, Sri Lanka marched to their third win in four games with consummate ease, reaching the target with six wickets to spare and eight of the regulation 50 overs remaining unconsumed.
And while they were at it, they must have taught a thing or two to yesterday's losers, Pakistan, about how to organise a chase.
In a match that was of just academic interest, the Sri Lankan desire to win was palpably intense.
Perhaps they wanted to use this opportunity to put South Africa in their place to score some psychological points before Wednesday's final.
The quicksilver innings by Sanath Jayasuriya (47, off 48 balls, 6 fours and 1 six) and Aravinda de Silva (unconquered 77, off 74 balls, 7 fours and 1 six) took the attack to Proteas. And a comparatively sedate knock by Kumar Sangakkara (57, off 90 balls, 4 fours) made sure that there never were any hiccups.
By the time, Sangakkara got himself run out, the third wicket stand was worth 96, off 111 deliveries, and at 179 for three in the 35th over, Sri Lanka's was never in doubt.
Sanath Jayasuriya, adjudged Man of the Match in two previous games, was on top of the bowling from word go. He seemed all set to get to his 50th score of 50-plus when he tried to cut Klusener to fine third man; it was too close to his body and the resulting edge was pouched by stand-in keeper Boeta Dippenaar.
Jayasuriya started off with a boundary at covers in the first Shaun Pollock over, and another to square-leg in Telemachus's next. He lost Marwan Atapattu (15, 19 balls, 2 fours) with the total at 40, and was dropped by Paul Adams in the next over, but he kept batting in his characteristic cavalier style.
He picked up a fancy for Roger Telemachus (5 for 41, for one wicket), and first he cut him to third man and then sent him for a six to square leg.
His rapidfire innings had put Sri Lanka on the way to victory, as a belligerent de Silva maintained the pace that he had set. Aravinda took a six and a four from the first two overs that he faced off Makhaya Ntini and in between pulled Lance Klusener to square-leg fence. Having done this, he settled down to his trademark singles and twos, sprinkling a boundary here and there, never letting the bowlers breathe easy till the target was overhauled, though Mahela Jayawardene lost his wicket with 11 runs to go.
Lankans restrict Proteas:
Jacques Kallis led the way with 84 runs, and he, Lance Klusener and Shaun Pollock hit four sixes between them as South Africa collected 67 runs in the last 10 overs, to take the total to a respectable 220 for six.
Having rested its quartet of main bowlers (with South Africans having made as many changes to their eleven as well), it was a commendable achievement for Sri Lanka to restrict Proteas to this total.
Jayasuriya handled his limited bowling resources rather well. Buddhika Fernando provided two important wickets early on. But then Kallis and Graeme Smith, who had seen Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten fall to Fernando within the first 25 deliveries, seemed to be scoring freely off the medium pacers after 10 overs had yielded only 25 runs.
Jayasuriya brought on the spinners, and had the gumption to bowl two of the last three overs. Though Pollock took two sixes off him as the last over went for 15 runs, he got the wicket of Kallis (84, 125, 7 fours, 1 six).
Kallis, who held the innings together in two good partenerships for the third and fourth wicket stands of 71 and 78 respectively with Smith and Klusener, should have been out at 59 off Aravinda de Silva. As the replays showed, Buddhika ran and dived forward to scoop the ball with his fingers clearly under it. But third umpire Daryl Harper thought otherwise.
Anyway, once his two main medium pacers had bowled their spells, Jayasuriya totally relied on Upul Chandana, de Silva and himself, all three consuming their full quota of overs. Chandana was the pick of the three, taking three wickets for 32 runs that really stopped the flow of runs and the momentum of the innings.
Smith, clean bowled, was the first of Chandana's three wickets. And he got Boeta Dippenaar, after he had swatted de Silva for a six over long-on, caught by Sangakkara when he tried to cut too close to his body, and Justin Ontong too was smartly stumped by Sangakkara.
Sri Lanka may have rested the bowlers, but it had a full complement of eight batsmen and all-rounders. Keeping that in view, 220 was not big enough a total. The Lankans proved it by becoming the first side in this tournament to win batting second.