On a really good batting surface, the Proteas pace merchants put Sri Lanka to the sword to take a 3-0 series lead against Sri Lanka.
Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo knocked over Sri Lanka’s top four batters and then followed up with three middle-order wickets as the hosts did their best to match the Proteas’ massive 363-7 on a surface prepared for run-scoring.
The Proteas bowlers were forced to put in a really good shift and, using their pace and tight control, hurried the Sri Lanka batsmen into errors and succeeded in keeping them behind the curve throughout the innings.
Ngidi stole the show, claiming the wickets of three of the top four batsmen, before finishing the match by taking a great catch off his own bowling from Suranga Lakmal’s mistimed hook. In making the catch, the bowler came close to a nasty collision with Quinton de Kock.
Ngidi finished with figures of 8.2-0-57-4 (econ 6.84), his second four-for in only his seventh ODI. In total, the 22-year-old has taken 16 ODI wickets at the phenomenal strike rate of 2.28.
In the previous two ODIs at Dambulla, Ngidi took 3-50 and 1-29 to head the series bowling list with eight wickets at the lowly average of 17.00 runs per wicket (S/R 18.2 balls per wicket).
‘We saw our batsmen bat well, so we knew it’ll be high scoring,’ said Ngidi after the match. ‘I expected the ball to grip a bit more, but it didn’t. I think it was similar to South African surfaces, but if you bowl well you’ll earn some bounce. The main chat has been to play positively and look for ways to pick up wickets – and with a total like 360, we knew we didn’t have to necessarily defend too much. A good return after losing the Test series.’
Phehlukwayo followed up his cameo innings of 24 not out off 11 balls by taking three key wickets in the innings (albeit at 8.22 runs per over). First up he removed Kusal Perera leg-before for 27, just when the batsman was starting to rebuild the Sri Lanka innings with Kusal Mendis.
The all-rounder returned later to take the wickets of top-scorers Akila Dananjaya (37 off 42 balls) and Dhananjaya de Silva (caught by De Kock for 84 off 66 balls, eight fours, three sixes), which put paid to Sri Lanka’s challenge in the match. It was another solid performance by the highly ranked all-rounder, following his 3-45 in the previous ODI in Dambulla.
Tabraiz Shamsi (2-62) and Wiaan Mulder (1-34) also played their part in the victory, as did Kagiso Rabada. The Proteas’ premier bowler failed to take a wicket but was the most economical of the Proteas bowlers, restricting Sri Lanka to 4.25 runs per over.
As so often happens with this Proteas side, the star performances are backed-up by excellent team-work.
Photo: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images