Sri Lanka were 307 for 4 in the 43rd over in pursuit of South Africa’s mammoth 367 before a familiar for that has been their nemesis throughout the ongoing tour came back to haunt them again as they collapsed dramatically to lose their last five wickets for only 30 runs to hand the Proteas a victory by 40-runs.
Chasing a gigantic 367, nobody would have given Sri Lanka even an outside chance to even get close to South Africa’s score. The visitors had failed to cross the 200-run mark even once in the last three ODIs and chasing down such a huge total was always going to be a herculean task. However, Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga had other plans in their mind as they fired on all cylinders right from the start to bring their back in contention to surprise their fancied opponents. The duo added 139 runs off only 96 balls before Dickwella was sent back by Dwaine Pretorius for 58. Another 64-run stand between Tharanga and Kusal Mendis for the second wicket had Sri Lanka on the drivers seat but three wickets inside 25 runs brought the hosts right back into the game. More importantly, the Proteas managed to dismiss the dangerous Tharanga, who scored the first century by a Sri Lankan batsman on this trip.
However, Sandun Weerakkody, who was playing in just his second ODI, kept the visitors in hunt with a fighting fifty. But he got little support from other batsmen as Sri Lanka’s last five batsmen could contribute only 10 runs with four of them scoring only 1 as the hosts took a 4-0 lead in the five-match series.
Earlier, a batting masterclass by Faf du Plessis propelled the Proteas to a huge total. After AB de Villiers decided to bat first on a flat pitch, the home team made a poor start as Hashim Amla (1) returned to the hut cheaply. However, two century stands between Quinton de Kock (55) and du Plessis and the latter and de Villiers (64) set the platform for a big total. In the meantime, du Plessis scored his eighth ODI ton off only 89 deliveries. The 32-year old’s monumental innings eventually came to an end when after scoring 185 runs, he was caught on the boundary while looking for a six that would have taken him past Gary Kirsten’s 188, the highest individual ODI score by a South African. Farhaan Behardien too chipped in with a quickfire 36 to help the hosts cross the 350-run mark.
South Africa 367 for 5 (du Plessis 185, Pathirana 2-55) beat Sri Lanka 327 (Tharanga 119, Dickwella 58, Weerakkody 58, Parnell 4-58) by 40 runs