The Proteas managed to defend their total of 180-3 and seal the series against Sri Lanka with a 16-run win despite an entertaining 48-ball 84 from Isuru Udana at SuperSort Park. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
The Proteas had the perfect scenario unfold before them at SuperSport Park. After being sent into bat first, the hosts were handed the opportunity to show off their batting ability. Especially their top order.
The Centurion crowd got to witness two batsmen in top form. But they were treated to an attacking display after a slow start that saw the Proteas lose the wicket of Aiden Markram and scoring only 28 runs after five overs.
The World Cup selectors would have been roused to attention as Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen stole the show. They may be tightening their seatbelts on the plane to England yet.
The pair set a solid foundation by scoring 116 runs off 77 balls to help the Proteas reach 180-3 off their 20 overs. JP Duminy then contributed a neat 17-ball 33 which put the Proteas firmly in charge to complete a simple victory.
As expected, the Proteas’ bowlers were up for the task. Incredible bowling from Dale Steyn and Chris Morris set the tone, both speedsters taking two wickets each to knock Sri Lanka down to 31-4 after four overs.
Steyn opened up superbly, striking twice in the first over to dismiss Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis. Niroshan Dickwella looked dangerous for his 16-ball 20, but Morris spoilt his party.
Morris struck again with his following delivery, finding Kamindu Mendis’ edge and handing debutant wicketkeeper Sinethemba Qeshile his first catch behind the stumps in international cricket.
Sri Lanka then found themselves six down for 62 runs after 10 overs, thanks to a wicket from Dwaine Pretorius to dismiss the dangerous Thisara Perera after his 15-ball 22 (with two fours and a six). Pretorius fooled Perera with a quicker short delivery, skied by the batsman for a second simple catch by Qeshile.
An extraordinary dismissal followed. Dhananjaya de Silva skied a Lutho Sipamla delivery that flew above the floodlights with Duminy’s loud call of ‘mine’ echoing through the ground. The skipper then floored the catch, but recovered his composure when Sri Lanka called for a second run. Duminy proceded to run out De Silva and peg the visitors back to seven for 83 runs.
Isuru Udana displayed his big-hitting capabilities once again and provided the Sri Lankan fans with some entertainment by reaching an exquisite maiden T20I half-century.
Tabraiz Shamsi, however, took Sri Lanka’s eighth wicket when Akila Dananjaya dragged a tossed-up delivery outside off on to his stumps.
Morris (3-32) finished his four overs with a wicket to dismiss Lasith Malinga with a yorker, Sri Lanka still in need of 32 runs off the last six balls.
Udana continued his admirable innings right to the last ball, hitting Sipamla for 15 runs off the last over, including two sixes. His 48-ball 84 included six sixes and eight fours, but was not enough to prevent the Proteas from securing the match and the series, with Rassie van der Dussen picking up the Player of the Match honours.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images