With rain delaying the start of play for two-and-a-half hours, the match was reduced to a faintly ridiculous seven overs a side, but it didn’t stop South Africa from playing with the same intensity as in their overwhelming opening victory over Zimbabwe.
Captain AB de Villiers led the way with the bat, plundering 30 off 13 balls as he lifted them to 78 for four after they had lost the toss and been sent in to bat.
South Africa’s much-vaunted new-ball pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel then had Sri Lanka’s batsmen in immediate submission. There was no question of them treating the batsmen with kid gloves as they bowled with aggression and control to leave the hosts on 13 for two after three overs and out of the contest.
South Africa have some weighty decisions to make at the top of their batting order, but Hashim Amla again did a good job opening the batting, scoring 16 off nine balls, with three fours.
Richard Levi scored 4 off four balls but, after a diet of normal seamers from Nuwan Kulasekara, he was then deceived by a back-of-the-hand slower ball and Dilshan Munaweera covered the ground well from midwicket to wide mid-on to take a fine catch.
The loss of Amla, beautifully stumped down the leg side by Kumar Sangakkara off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, at the end of the third over brought De Villiers to the crease and he was quickly away, hitting a four and two sixes, but also using the size of the outfield well with cleverly-placed shots that saw him collect two runs on five occasions. He and Faf du Plessis, and then JP Duminy, also kept the pressure on the Sri Lankan fielders with excellent running between the wickets.
Du Plessis found batting more of a challenge and could score just 13 runs off 11 balls, but Duminy went to 12 not out off five balls with ease, suggesting he should have batted number three instead of the out-of-form Titan.
The left-hander also gave the innings a wonderful finish as he scooped Thisara Perera for four and then drove the last ball straight back over the bowler’s head for a magnificent six.
With Ajantha Mendis allegedly resting a side strain (the mystery spinner is more likely just being kept hidden from the Proteas until the knockout stages), Lasith Malinga was Sri Lanka’s only truly top-class bowler, but he had a difficult time, conceding 27 runs in his two overs.
Morkel and Steyn then came tearing in with the ball as Sri Lanka made a sorry start to their run-chase, with Tillakaratne Dilshan suffering the agony of being run out without facing a ball.
The match situation was tailor-made for the hard-hitting opener, but he was back on his heels as Mahela Jayawardena called for a quick single and De Villiers was able to turn a wayward throw into a run out with some brilliant work behind the stumps.
Jayawardena struggled to four off six balls before flicking Steyn high to deep square-leg and Sangakkara came to the crease with the required run-rate already 14.20 runs per over.
Sangakkara tried some wild sallies but his only boundary in scoring 13 off 11 balls was via a classic cover drive off Johan Botha.
One of the world’s greatest batsman was removed by the grand old man of the South African team, Jacques Kallis, who bowled a marvellous over that could easily have gained him two more wickets.
The pace of Steyn then accounted for Thisara Perera (1) and Munaweera, who looked out of his depth in scoring 13 off 14 balls, fell in the final over, bowled by Albie Morkel.
Sri Lanka ended their seven overs on 46 for five and suffered a massive defeat for such a truncated game.
Steyn finished with magnificent figures of 2-10 in his two overs and Morne Morkel conceded just nine runs in his pair of overs up front, and they are giving South Africa an edge in helpful conditions that gives them penetration and makes run-scoring difficult.