Steely Sri Lanka kindle old South African demons

There had to be something different for Sri Lanka to turn their fate around in what has otherwise been a drab ODI series for them. Through one stellar catch and one terrific run-out, the hosts edged South Africa out in a final-over thriller to end their 11-match losing streak against the opponents.

Originally set a 308-run total to win the curtailed affair, the target was further trimmed to 191 in 21 overs, of which South Africa eventually made a complete hash of, through some classical South African choking. In total control for majority of the chase with an asking rate of seven and thereabouts, the tourists were needed to score eight off the final over, which they failed with David Miller falling off the second ball.

South Africa, however, had made a great start to their chase with Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla finding boundaries right from the start and adding 21 in the first two overs of play. However, rains came lashing down for the umpteenth time in the day, revising their target to 191 from 21 overs. De Kock resumed play with a booming six before being done in by a full toss to be out for a 13-ball 23.

Amla continued to score briskly, hitting four boundaries inside the first two overs of play. While Reeza Hendricks failed to kick on from the third ODI where he scored a fine, match-winning hundred, JP Duminy brought his form into this dead-rubber fourth ODI as he started with aplomb, hitting a four and a six in the first over he faced. Duminy continued by plundering Dasun Shanaka for consecutive fours in the next over before being dropped by Suranga Lakmal when an attempted reverse sweep went straight to cover. Amla’s wicket came against the run of play but the veteran had played his part with a well-made 23-ball 40.

The first of many turns in the chase came in the 13th over when South Africa lost Heinrich Klaasen and Duminy in the space of five deliveries. Despite that momentous over, South Africa needed only 61 off eight overs with David Miller still in the middle. Wickets kept tumbling before Keshav Maharaj slammed three crucial fours in his knock of 17. With eight needed off the final over, Miller fell with four deliveries to go, leaving too much work for the last pair to do.

Earlier in the game, Sri Lanka were helped by a collective batting display led by Kusal Perera who went on a boundary-hitting spree, first bringing up his 2000 ODI runs before scoring a fifty off just 28 balls. Even after Perera fell, Sri Lanka didn’t lose sight of a staggering total as Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka got stuck in a 109-run stand for the seventh wicket to take their side past the 300-run mark. Eventually, those late blows had the lasting impact on the game’s result.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 306/7 in 39 overs (Dasun Shanaka 65, Thisara Perera 51*, Kusal Perera 51; JP Duminy 2-35) beat South Africa 187/9 in 21 overs (Hashim Amla 40, JP Duminy 38; Thisara Perera 2-32) by 3 runs (DLS method).

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