Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka all-rounder Dasun Shanaka walloped a 34-ball 65 and took a wicket to lead his side to a nail-biting three-run consolation win over South Africa via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in the fourth ODI in Pallekele.
Being put in to bat first, Sri Lanka, whose innings was restricted to 39 overs due to rain, got off to a great start as openers Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga amassed a 61-run partnership before Dickwella was caught behind off the bowling of JP Duminy for 34.
Tharanga went on to make 36 before he was clean bowled by Willem Mulder.
Even though Kusal Mendis fell shortly after, Kusal Perera and stand-in captain Angelo Mathews stabilised the innings with a 59-run stand before Mathews was caught behind off the bowling of Lungi Ngidi for 22.
Dhananjaya de Silva was dismissed for 10 runs, while Kusal went on to score 51 off 32 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes, before he was dismissed by Duminy.
Shanaka and Thisara Perera gave Sri Lanka a massive boost after Kusal’s dismissal as they forged a 109-run partnership before Shanaka was removed by Andile Phehlukwayo for a career-best 65, which came off 34 deliveries and included four boundaries and five sixes.
Thisara ended up making an unbeaten 51 off 45 balls, which included three boundaries and two sixes, as Sri Lanka finished on 306/7 off 39 overs.
Ngidi and Duminy picked up two wickets apiece, while Mulder, Phehlukwayo and Keshav Maharaj took one wicket each.
Chasing 191 to win off 21 overs due to rain interrupting their innings, South Africa got off to a brisk start before stand-in skipper Quinton de Kock was cleaned up by Suranga Lakmal for 23.
Reeza Hendrick only mustered two runs, but Hashim Amla and Duminy steadied things with a 57-run partnership before Amla was sent packing by Akila Dananjaya for 40.
South Africa began to lose wickets at regular intervals once Amla was gone, including that of Duminy, who proceeded to score 38.
Despite this, the Proteas crept ever closer to their target and were left needing eight runs to win off the last over.
Miller refused a single on the first ball and was clean bowled by Lakmal for 21 on the second ball of the over.
With Lakmal only conceding four runs off the last four balls, Sri Lanka escaped with a thrilling win.
Lakmal was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Thisara snapped up two and Dananjaya, Shanaka and De Silva claimed one wicket each.
De Kock was gutted to have lost, and said: “Always disappointing losing games like that. It was a good game nonetheless. The crowd enjoyed it, we enjoyed it. Still a good day in the end. Credit has to be given to the Sri Lankans. They kept taking the wickets and putting pressure on us. We were still backing ourselves in the last over, Davey’s capable of clearing the ropes, but Lakmal bowled two good balls and kept the pressure.”
Mathews was delighted to have won, and said: “Very important win to be honest. Proud of the way we fought today. The batsmen put up a decent score. The two all-rounders finished off well. But it’s never easy. DLS plays into the hands of the chasing team. Fantastic bowling. We weren’t clinical in the field but we pulled through. Wee’ll have a word about that, but we’ll have a drink tonight. Fantastic effort from the bowlers. Credit to the groundstaff as well, the way they worked to get us on the field in time.”
Shanaka was named Man of the Match, and said: “Wicket was very good. Ball was coming on nicely. I wasn’t nervous. I batted my normal way and I enjoyed my batting. I’m really happy with the team performance. Everyone was brilliant and talking to each other.”