Centuries from Faf du Plessis and David Miller, along with a disciplined bowling display, saw the Proteas ease to a 121-run victory in Durban.
Sri Lanka’s young and inexperienced unit will wonder where the performances are going to come from, as another one-sided contest on Wednesday evening saw their depleting confidence take another battering to the all-round efforts of the South Africans.
Du Plessis, who struck 55 not out in the first match, continued to lead from the front without the skipper’s armband with a brilliantly constructed 105, while Miller proved once again that he’s more than just a big-hitter, getting his side past 300 with an excellent and unbeaten 117.
Form and depth to Miller’s batting appeared to be lacking last year, and when he was dropped from the side for the Tri-Nation series in West Indies, doubts surrounded his future in the 50-over format. He’s responded emphatically since, and blasted a century at the same ground that saw him return to form against Australia in October last year with his match-winning 118.
It was Du Plessis who allowed Miller to settle. Hashim Amla (15) and Quinton de Kock (17) fell cheaply, and Du Plessis was forced to watch his captain AB de Villiers (3) and JP Duminy (11) perish in relatively quick fashion too.
After being in a precarious position on 108-4, the hosts needed a solid stand to get them back on track, and they found that in Du Plessis and Miller, who put together 117. The Test captain refused to get bogged down and rotated the strike with ease.
When Du Plessis fell for 105, Miller, already well set on 67, saw the opportunity to open his arms and it paid off handsomely. He put on a brisk 60-run stand with Chris Morris (26 off 20), smashing six sixes on his way to his fourth ODI century. The 19 runs Miller scored off the last over allowed the Proteas to post an imposing 307-6.
On a deteriorating pitch, Sri Lankan skipper Upul Tharanga was probably regretting his decision to have a bowl first. It was, however, a promising start from the tourists, as Niroshan Dickwella and Tharanga played with freedom in the PowerPlay overs.
Wayne Parnell, who saw a hat trick of dropped catches go against his bowling in the third T20 last week at Newlands, probably thought he was in for another night of calamities as Andile Phehlukwayo dropped a sitter in the fourth over. Du Plessis then stopped the rot for Parnell with a sublime, one-handed grab in the covers, which ended the promising 45-run stand, removing Dickwella for 25. Parnell had another in his next over, and this time it was De Villiers with a fine grab, seeing off Tharanga for 26.
That opening stand was as good as it got for Sri Lanka, as the rest of the bowling lineup weighed in. Everyone who bowled took at least one wicket, as Phehlukwayo saw off the dangerous Kusal Mendis for 20, and any potential threat was removed when Morris saw off Dinesh Chandimal for 36.
Duminy couldn’t contribute with the bat, but two wickets and a run out made up for that, while Imran Tahir bowled with excellent control once again, putting the seal on the victory with the last wicket to bag figures of 2-26 from his nine overs.
It was the complete performance from the Proteas yet again, and they will look to close out the series when they lock horns in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images