On Saturday, Sri Lanka proved that despite being one of the best teams till just a few years back, why they are coming here with a tag of ‘underdogs’.
At the starting phase of the chase, they were cruising towards the total and till completion of seven overs, had touched the 50 run mark. Who would have known that wicket of Nirosha Dickwella will shake this team till the end that they will be bundled on a score of just 203?
Sri Lanka had probably the best start, as openers were not only striking runs but were right behind the chase but just a wicket and they were all back in the pavilion in line. After fall of the first wicket, Kusal Mendis, the promising batsman was expected to prove the mettle here but he failed and could not fill up to the promise and followed Dickwella soon.
Dinesh Chandimal, Chamara Kapudedra were just left as a dummy model on the field, as a score of 12 and 0 were only they could manage. A simple catch of Upul Tharanga off Imran Tahir meant that even the little of the hope of Sri Lanka to dream to have chase down the total was banished.
It was Imran Tahir who turned the game on his own, as he was creating pressure on batsmen which resulted in wickets, and also two run outs, one off those affected by himself. With no signs of win, Sri Lanka was packed on mere 203 to lose the game by a margin of 96 runs.
Probably, they made the wrong call to bowl first and asking South Africa to bat. Proteas started slow and took their time to acclimatise and the early wicket of youngster Quinton de Kock on a score of 44 was best Sri Lanka could hope for. Then came a moment for the Proteas that helped them to have a big say in the game, as Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla stayed at the crease for a period of next 21 overs, sharing 145 runs for the second wicket.
Both were doing away with the Lankan bowlers on a tough pitch and were not giving them chance to cash up, which was the fault of the Lankan side. When the partnership seemed to go the big way, South Africa suffered quick jitters in form of Plessis and AB de Villers but the biggest moment of the game was yet to come when Hashim Amla, who with his century became the fastest ever to score 25 hundreds in ODIs, breaking the record of Virat Kohli.
In the previous game that he played, Amla had broken the record of Kohli of fastest to 7000 runs in ODI cricket and on Saturday again he broke one of Kohli’s records. Riding on good middle order batting and a brilliant 38* from JP Duminy, South Africa put a total of 299 on the board.
With the win in the bag, South Africa have marched ahead with confidence, whereas, it was a loss for Sri Lanka that they will find it hard to swallow.
Still, both teams have two big contests coming up in next week, where they like to apply lesson learnt today.