South Africa beat Sri Lanka, clinch ODI series
Sports Desk: South Africa sealed a second successive ODI series win in Sri Lanka and 11th consecutive victory over their opponents, dating back to July 2014, after scoring the highest total on the island and dismissing the hosts inside 46 overs. South Africa now hold an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series and, in complete contrast to the Tests that preceded this, are becoming more dominant with each performance, reports Cricinfo.
Asked to bat first, runs came from exactly where South Africa needed them. Hashim Amla scored his first international fifty on the tour to set the tone, Reeza Hendricks, picked ahead of Aiden Markram, scored the fastest hundred by a debutant, off 88 balls, JP Duminy fell eight runs short of a fifth ODI hundred and David Miller crossed 50 for the first time since the Champions Trophy last June. Together, they scored South Africa’s 27th total over 350, the most by any team and far beyond Sri Lanka.
Targets of 300-plus have only been successfully chased in Sri Lanka twice before, and despite a surface packed with runs, Sri Lanka were never really in the chase. Even without their captain Faf du Plessis for most of the Sri Lankan innings, South Africa ensured the required run rate ballooned beyond Sri Lanka’s scoring rate.
Du Plessis left the field as a precaution after landing awkwardly on his right shoulder, on which he had surgery last year, attempting a diving catch in the 10th over. Quinton de Kock took over the leadership, which allowed him to contribute more in the field than he did with the bat and he made full use of it. De Kock decided on two important reviews, which were crucial to South Africa’s win.
Amla dominated the early exchanges to the extent that de Kock only faced eight balls in the first six overs and top-edged a Suranga Lakmal delivery to depart cheaply. In that time, Amla had smacked eight boundaries off the new-ball bowlers. He went on to hit two more off Akila Dananjaya to bring up 50 in 39 balls. Amla added nine more to his total before he was given out lbw off a Thisara Perera offcutter, but reviewed successfully, only to be bowled by another offcutter off the next ball.
By then, Hendricks had survived an edge off Lakmal falling short of slip and had muscled his way to 31 off 35 balls. He had another nervous moment when he almost inside-edged Thisara onto his stumps but went on to his fifty off 49 balls. The real fun, however, began when du Plessis holed out to deep midwicket and Duminy joined Hendricks.
The pair shared in a 78-run fourth-wicket stand and offered entertainment aplenty. Duminy inside-edged the fourth ball of his knock between the wicketkeeper’s legs; it went for four. Hendricks top-edged a second slog-sweep off Prabath Jayasuriya that also went for four and they both played confidently against the spin. Hendricks’ hundred came up with a tuck to long leg and he looked set for many more but was bowled off the next ball from Lahiru Kumara, that jagged back and took off the leg bail.
South Africa still had more thann 15 overs left in the innings and, with Duminy and Miller on hand, 400 was on the cards. Duminy’s fifty came off 52 balls and he became more dangerous after that. He slog-swept Dananjaya for six and then four and took 22 runs off Lakmal’s ninth over but then gifted deep midwicket a catch to fall short of a century and end a 103-run stand with Miller.
Miller had played a secondary role until then but found his own force and brought up fifty off 46 balls before also picking out deep midwicket in the penultimate over.
Andile Phehlukwayo struck 24 runs in a cameo off 11 balls.
Niroshan Dickwella departed early in Sri Lanka’s chase when he picked out du Plessis at short cover. Two overs later, when Upul Tharanga pulled straight to square leg, all seemed hopeless for the hosts. Lungi Ngidi took both early wickets, one later on and the final scalp to overtake Dananjaya as the leading wicket-taker in the series so far, with eight scalps.
Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera threw their bats at as much as they could to keep Sri Lanka in it, but their aggression was short-lived. Kusal was given out lbw off Andile Phehlulwayo and reviewed unsuccessfully while an excellent low, diving catch from Wiaan Mulder sent back Mendis. Between the two dismissals, Thisara was caught down the leg side off a Mulder slower ball, which South Africa reviewed successfully.
Their 100 came up off 15 overs, but the loss of the top order and the wickets that continued to stud their chase meant victory always seemed unlikely. Angelo Mathews given out lbw to Tabraiz Shamsi. Mathews reviewed but replays showed umpire’s call on leg stump.
It was only when Dhananjaya de Silva and Akila were together that Sri Lanka may have dared to dream of an unlikely win. The pair put on 95 for the seventh wicket and de Silva top-scored with 84 off 66 balls. He was particularly severe on Shamsi and even pulled Kagiso Rabada for six. Sri Lanka needed 115 runs off the final 11 overs with four wickets in hand, which may have been possible had the pair stayed together.
But Akila was duped by a back-of-a-length Phehlukwayo delivery that he tried hit over the bowler’s head but only the toe-end of his bat made contact. He was caught at mid-off. In Phehlukwayo’s next over, de Silva attempted a slog on the leg side but missed. De Kock was convinced of an edge and reviewed with success to end the Sri Lankan challenge.
With two matches remaining in the series, South Africa will have the opportunity to test the rest of their bench strength. Keshav Maharaj, Heinrich Klaasen and Junior Dala are the players yet to make an appearance.