The Sri Lankan spinners ripped through South Africa’s middle order to record a comprehensive victory in Pallekele, reports Gareth Stevens.
The hosts got off to a great start with the bat before losing momentum in the last five overs. Led by Dilshan at the top of the order they posted a competitive 267. Ryan McLaren’s four wickets pegged back what looked likely to be a much bigger total. However, his efforts with the ball proved to be in vain as the South African middle order capitulated in their reply. They were bowled out for 180.
Malinga struck two early blows in South Africa’s chase, dismissing Quinton de Kock and Jacques Kallis for four and one respectively. The score was 26-2 when AB de Villiers walked to the wicket. He looked assured from the start and together with Hashim Amla put on 75 runs for the third wicket.
The chase looked in control before de Villiers gave his wicket away, chipping an easy catch to long on, off the bowling of Dilshan. His lapse in concentration caused a collapse as JP Duminy and David Miller departed for one and four respectively. The innings was in tatters at 109-5 in the 22nd over when McLaren walked to the crease.
Amla held firm, scoring his second century of the series, but he enjoyed no support at the other end as one partner after another fell to the Sri Lankan spinners. The tourists resistance ended in the 39th over with a humbling 87 run defeat.
Earlier in the day, Angelo Mathews won the toss and decided to bat first in the Day/night encounter. There were some clouds around at the start, but both captains refused the urge to change their respective teams from the first ODI.
Sri Lanka showed their intend from the beginning, taking 7 off Dale Steyn’s first over. They then took 11 of Vernon Philander at the other end to reach 18-0 after two overs.
The breakthrough came when Philander found Perera’s leading edge. The ball ballooned into the air and was caught by Amla at mid-wicket. Sangakkara was bounced out early by Morne Morkel, but Dilshan ensured the scoreboard ticked over at an alarming rate.
The hosts reached 66-2 at the end of the 10 over Power Play and the opener reached his 50 of just 40 deliveries. Thirimanne played a steady hand, ably supporting Dilshan, before hitting an Imran Tahir long-hop straight to the leg-side boundary rider. He departed for 36, which saw Jayawardene walk to the wicket.
Dilshan was desperately unlucky to fall for 86 of 90 balls with the score on 154 in the 31st over. He attempted to sweep a JP Duminy delivery, which was wide down the leg-side, but only succeeded in dragging it back onto his stumps.
Jayawardene, who was adjudged LBW on five but successfully reviewed the decision, was joined by Mathews. The two negotiated the Power Play, advancing Sri Lanka’s score from 174-4 to 207-4.
SA fought back well after bleeding runs in the first 15 overs. Tahir was once again the pick of the bowlers in the middle overs, claiming 2-41 off his 10 overs. JP Duminy provided good support, but the hosts had conserved their wickets for the death overs.
The base had been set and acceleration was required in the final 10 overs. Jayawardene was clean bowled for 48 by Tahir as he tried to launch a googly over the off-side. This brought a belligerent Priyanjan to the crease who looked good for his 25 off 15 balls.
The momentum of the innings changed in the 47th over when McLaren grabbed three wickets, derailing Sri Lanka’s late charge. A brief shower saw the players leave the field, but the damage had been done. McLaren finished with impressive figures of 4-48 off his 10 overs.
Sri Lanka limped to 267 all out after the resumption. It proved to be more than enough as South Africa fell 87 runs short. The result means that the series is locked at 1-1 heading into the final match on Saturday.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM images