Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Reeza Hendricks scored a sensational 102 on debut as South Africa crushed Sri Lanka by 78 runs in the third ODI in Pallekele to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
Hendricks was well supported by JP Duminy, Hashim Amla and David Miller as they scored 92, 59 and 51 respectively.
Being put in to bat first, South Africa made a solid start to their innings before opener Quinton de Kock was dismissed by Lahiru Kumara for two runs.
Amla and Hendricks made up for the loss of De Kock with a 59-run partnership, during which Amla brought up his half-century, before he was clean bowled by Thisara Perera for 59, which came off 59 balls and included nine boundaries and a six.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis fell shortly after, but Hendricks and Duminy steadied things with a 78-run partnership, during which Hendricks registered his century.
Hendricks ended up making 102 off 89 balls, which included eight boundaries and a six, before he was cleaned up by Kumara.
Duminy and Miller kept the runs flowing with a 103-run stand, during which Duminy raced past his fifty.
But, as he was approaching his hundred, disaster struck as he was removed by Thisara for 92, which came off 70 deliveries and included eight boundaries and four sixes.
Miller ended up making 51 off 47 balls, which included five boundaries and a six, before he was also dismissed by Thisara.
With Andile Phehlukwayo walloping an 11-ball 24 towards the end of the innings, South Africa finished on 363/7 off their 50 overs.
Thisara was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Kumara took two and Akila Dananjaya chipped in with one.
Chasing 364 to win, Sri Lanka made a disappointing start to their innings as opener Niroshan Dickwella was caught by Du Plessis at short cover off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi for 10 runs.
Upul Tharanga, who opened the batting with Dickwella, made 19 before he became Ngidi’s second victim.
Kusal Perera made a 17-ball 27 before being trapped lbw off the bowling of Phehlukwayo, while Thisara was caught behind off the bowling of Willem Mulder for 16.
Sri Lanka stand-in captain Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis halted South Africa’s charge with a 43-run partnership before Mendis was sent packing by Ngidi for 31.
Mathews went on to make 32 before being given out lbw off the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi.
With Sri Lanka seemingly down and out, Dhananjaya de Silva and Dananjaya launched a counter-attack as they forged a 95-run partnership, during which De Silva surpassed his half-century.
Dananjaya ended up making 37 before he was removed by Phehlukwayo, while De Silva scored 84 off 66 balls, which included eight boundaries and three sixes, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Phehlukwayo.
With Prabath Jayasuriya and Suranga Lakmal falling soon after, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 285.
Ngidi was the most successful bowler with four wickets, while Phehlukwayo took three, Shamsi snapped up two and Mulder claimed one.
Mathews was gutted to have lost the series, and said: “360 to chase was too much. Our execution with the ball was poor, but this is the brand of cricket we want to play. Want to play positive cricket. But a bunch of positives today: Dhananjaya batted well, some bowlers bowled well. But credit to Reeza and Duminy. We need to think out of the box if we need to win away. I know we aren’t doing well, but we need to play on good wickets to develop. We’re playing for pride, and we want to finish the series off well.”
Du Plessis was thrilled to have already secured the series, and said: “Brilliant today. Once again, the batting was fantastic. We played aggressive. And obviously, for a debutant to play that freely was great to see. Every game there’s one or two guys putting their hands up. Today was less spin and a good one-day wicket. Was nice to see even our bowlers getting a bit of pressure but coming out on top.
“We just keep taking wickets and that’s a great way to plug the run flow. The plan is to test the bench strength now that the series is over. It was good to see Reeza do well in a crunch game. Let’s see how I pull up tomorrow, and then decide whether I’ll play the fourth game.”
Hendricks was named Man of the Match, and said: “This is lot different than T20I cricket, and happy to contribute. The wicket was pretty good, and the total made it fairly difficult for Sri Lanka. I didn’t know I was the fastest debutant to get an ODI hundred.”