Image courtesy of: ABC
Dilshan helped Sri Lanka stay atop the ICC Twenty20 team rankings
Sri Lanka opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan smashed an outstanding 74 runs to power his side to a six-wicket consolation win over South Africa in the third and final Twenty20 in Hambantota.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bat first.
Du Plessis would have probably been kicking himself over the decision as opening batsman Henry Davids was dismissed on the first ball of the South African innings.
Things went from bad to worse for the Proteas as Davids’ opening partner, Quinton de Kock, was dismissed cheaply as well.
However, du Plessis and Jean Paul (JP) Duminy brought South Africa back into the game with an incredible 112-run partnership, during which du Plessis brought up his half-century, at a run rate of 9.20.
The partnership was finally ended after 12.1 overs when du Plessis was clean bowled by Suranga Lakmal for 85 off 65 balls, which included 10 boundaries and three sixes.
Duminy also managed to register his own half-century as South Africa finished on 163 at the end of their 20 overs.
Duminy remained unbeaten on 51 off 34 deliveries, which included three boundaries and two maximums.
Lakmal, Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis all picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing a difficult target of 164 to win, Sri Lanka got off to an excellent start as Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene put together a 67-run partnership at a run rate of 11.48 before Jayawardene was caught by AB de Villiers off the bowling of Wayne Parnell.
Jayawardene’s dismissal sparked a domino effect to occur as Kusal Perera, skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews were all dismissed in quick succession.
Dilshan meanwhile had brought up his half-century and together with all-rounder Thisara Perera, the pair recorded a 41-run partnership at a run rate of 15.37 to seal the deal for Sri Lanka.
Dilshan finished unbeaten on 74 off 51 balls, which included nine boundaries and two sixes, while Perea remained undefeated on 25 off 11 delieveries, which included three boundaries and one maximum.
David Wiese was the pick of the South African bowlers with two wickets, while Parnell and Imran Tahir both snapped up one wicket each.
Du Plessis was disappointed not to have whitewashed the Sri Lankans, but conceded that he was still pleased to have won the Twenty20 series 2-1 after having been decimated 4-1 in the ODI series.
“That’s a big trophy to take back on the plane,” he said. “All in all we are really happy to beat the best team in the world. I thought 163 was enough, got to give credit to Dilshan. Our plans were not as good in this game as in the other two games. Happy to beat the best in the world, the World Cup is not too far away and we did it in conditions that are similar to Bangladesh. Thanks to the crowd for their support.”
Chandimal was extremely impressed by the performance of his team, especially Dilshan and Perera, both of whom took the fight to the South African bowlers and put them under immense pressure.
“I am really happy,” he said. “Guys did really well. Especially the bowling part as we kept them to 160. Mahela and Dilshan batted really well to give us a good start, and then Thisara playing a cameo to help us get there in the end. In previous games we didn’t bat well which is why we lost the game. But in this game we batted well so we are feeling good. They (SA) played some really good cricket throughout this series. They gave us a lot of good challenges.”
Dilshan was named the Man of the Match for his brilliant innings of 74.
“It’s not an easy target to chase,” he said. “We had to take our chances for six overs. Mahela and I had the best start in the series. We gave a fantastic start and momentum. I know I had to play dilscoop so it got bowlers thinking about how to bowl. It has worked for me last few years so I wanted them to think twice before bowling to me. We knew we could pass this total, especially after our start in the first six overs. I didn’t panic, I know Tahir bowled well so I couldn’t take a chance with him, but with the other bowlers it was a difficult pitch to bowl on, so I could take my chances.”
Duminy received the Man of the Series award for his 132 runs in three Twenty20 Internationals, which came at an spectacular average of 66, and the three wickets he took.
“Yes it’s been going pretty well,” he said. “I wasn’t really needed to bowl in these last two games. It’s unfortunate the Sri Lankans came out firing today. Been working hard on the nets, trying not to over hit the ball as the bats are really big today and just need to time it well. Really enjoyed playing in Sri Lanka, and happy to have won a series here.”