• Sri Lanka battle against unplayable Tahir

    Sri Lanka took the initiative to bat first in the fifth ODI at Newlands, but a powerhouse display by the Proteas bowlers kept the visitors on the back foot throughout their 50 overs, writes SIMON LEWIS.

    Brought back into the side after a well-deserved rest, Kagiso Rabada started a little waywardly, but he and opening partner Lungi Ngidi extracted excellent bounce and pace from the Newlands track.

    Ngidi got the early breakthrough, Aiden Markram taking a sharp catch at third slip one ball after Ngidi had forced Avishka Fernando to edge a delivery wide for four wide past a flying Faf du Plessis in the slips. Rabada followed up with the wicket of Upul Tharanga to leave Sri Lanka struggling on 14-2.

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    Sri Lanka consolidated well through Oshada Fernando (22) and Kusal Mendis (56) before Tahir had Fernando caught by Duminy. Sri Lanka reached the 20-over mark on 76-3 at a rate of under four runs to the over as the Proteas bowlers proved too hot to handle, with Tahir in particular bowling quite brilliantly.

    Mendis went to his 50 off 72 balls, but shortly afterwards Angelo Perera was superbly held low down at slip by Faf du Plessis off Tahir for 31 off 37 balls to leave Sri Lanka struggling on 125-4 off 29.5 overs.

    Mendis was then needlessly run out with his score on 56 off 84 balls (3×4) after a miscommunication with his batting partner. Ngidi sent a perfect throw into bowler Anrich Nortje from the boundary.

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    Priyamal Perera rallied the lower order as Sri Lanka passed 200, adding 61 runs off 49 balls for the eighth wicket with Isuru Udana, who fell for 32 off 29 balls (3×4, 1×6), caught superbly on the boundary by Tahir off Kagiso Rabada.

    Rabada followed up with a spiralling caught-and-bowled the next ball to remove Priyamal Perera for 33 off 57 balls (2×4), and Nortje (2-35) had Akila Dananjaya caught off the third last ball of the 50th over by JP Duminy, the local star’s second catch of the innings. Tahir also took two catches in the innings, offering the two Proteas stalwarts a fitting send-off to ODI cricket on home soil.

    Tahir returned the superb figures of 10-1-33-2, while Rabada was exceptional (despite some wayward moments) in capturing 3-50 off his 10 overs. Even though they had recovered well to reach 225, Sri Lanka’s hopes of avoiding a 5-0 series whitewash seem to be fading like the sun over a beautiful Newlands cricket ground.


    Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images

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    Simon Lewis