Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Dhananjaya de Silva took two wickets in an economical spell and scored 31 runs as Sri Lanka skirted past South Africa by three wickets in the one-off Twenty20 International in Colombo.
Choosing to bat first, South Africa made a poor start to their innings as opener Hashim Amla was caught by Dasun Shanaka at extra cover off the bowling of De Silva for a duck.
Quinton de Kock, who opened the batting with Amla, made an 11-ball 20 before being run out by Lakshan Sandakan.
Reeza Hendricks made 19 before being clean bowled by Akila Dananjaya, while stand-in captain JP Duminy was trapped lbw off the bowling of De Silva for three runs.
Sandakan took out Heinrich Klaasen, Andile Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada before Dananjaya removed David Miller for 14.
With Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi falling soon after, South Africa were skittled out for 98.
Sandakan was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while De Silva and Dananjaya snapped up two wickets apiece. As for Kasun Rajitha and Isuru Udana, they chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing 99 to win, Sri Lanka lost two wickets in the first over of their innings as Rabada dismissed Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis.
Dinesh Chandimal and De Silva stabilised the innings with a 53-run partnership before De Silva was sent packing by Junior Dala for 31.
Stand-in captain Angelo Mathews failed to trouble the scorers, while Shanaka scored 16.
With Thisara Perera and Dananjaya falling in quick succession, Sri Lanka found themselves struggling at 88/7.
However, Chandimal ensured his side got across the finish line as he scored an unbeaten 36 off 33 balls, which included three boundaries and a six.
Rabada, Dala and Shamsi took two wickets apiece, while Duminy claimed one.
Duminy was gutted to have lost, and said: “In the context of the game, 30-40 runs would have made a difference. We took the positive route but it did not work. We will take a lot of positives from this tour. It wasn’t a raging turner, but key is to understand options and the execution. Again, a lot of positives.
“The seamers did the damage for us, but we were 30-40 runs short in the end. It’s good to lead from the front but unfortunately did not lead with the bat. I think coming here and after losing 2-0 in Test matches, we had to change our mindset and fortunate enough we put our best foot forward in the ODIs. We have a few weeks off to rethink and get better. End of September, we have a series against Zimbabwe, hopefully we do well there.”
Mathews was thrilled to have won, and said: “Towards the end, we made it difficult for us but it was fantastic bowling. We have to blame only us because we did not bat well and kept losing wickets. The experience they’ve got, we have to put in such a performance. You can seem the improvements in various departments. Different conditions, but we are high on confidence. We let the fans down in the ODIs but they did not give up on us.”
De Silva was named Man of the Match, and said: “Nothing much (what was special?), I was just playing according to the situation. It was a good pitch, 130-140 would have been a good total. Very much (enjoying bowling spin v South Africa?). The new ball was coming onto the bat.”