Collective batting extravaganza lifts SL to 306
August 8, 2018 08:46 pm
Bursts of brilliance ensured hosts Sri Lanka put forth their best batting display in the five-match ODI series so far, on Wednesday (August 8), as they posted 306 for 7 in their allocated 39 overs after rain played spoilsport on more than one occasion at Pallekele. A steady opening stand was followed by swashbuckling fifties from Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka to see the hosts through to a daunting total in a curtailed match. Wickets fell in clumps but with every incoming batsman hitting the road running, Sri Lanka never lost sight of a competitive total.
Earlier, South Africa got the desired result at the toss when they won it and opted to field first under cloudy skies. Junior Dala and Lungi Ngidi hit the right channels to begin with, stifling Niroshan Dickwella with short-pitched deliveries and Upul Tharanga with ones that were slanted across him. However in the eighth over, Dala conceded three fours to Dickwella for the winds to change for the first time in the game. The tourists went about their business comfortably over five-an-over when stand-in skipper Quinton de Kock introduced spin to grab the first wicket of the afternoon. Dickwella (34) failed to execute a paddle and ended up top-edging it to the ‘keeper who took a simple catch.
Tharanga (36) seemed to pick pace with two successive fours off Andile Phehlukwayo but just as he was about to make matters worse for South Africa, Willem Mulder got one to jag back in and rattle the stumps. Both Kusals (Mendis and Perera) were expected to stabilise things for the hosts as they have many times already, but Mendis failed to pick the slider from Keshav Maharaj and was given out LBW. Two back-to-back wickets could have been made worse had Mulder held onto a tough return catch of Mathews. Following which, Mathews and Perera went on the counterattack to pull things back under control for Sri Lanka.
Five fours and three sixes in a 59-run stand saw a few milestones being knocked over - first, 2000 ODI runs for Perera before he brought up his fifty off just 28 balls. Just as the innings had been, one wicket followed the other with Mathews getting out first for 22 with de Kock flying wildly to his right to take an absolute stunner off Dala. The hero of the last game, Dhananjaya de Silva, made no impact and was out for just 10. Two overs later, Perera miscued a heave to long on off Duminy’s bowling, to once again live by the statement - “You live by the sword, you die by it.”
On 195 for 6, when Shanaka and Thisara Perera got together, very few would have given them a chance to go past the 300-run mark. However, as the front-line pacers in Dala and Ngidi returned for their final stints, both the batsmen went after their bowling to hit four sixes and four fours, providing the perfect final flourish. Lengths were awry in the last few overs and consistent big hits didn’t help the bowlers find their areas much. Shanaka, with a six off the 30th ball he was facing, raised his maiden ODI fifty. Thisara Perera got to his milestone in the final over, off 44 balls. Shanaka (65) fell with three balls to spare but the job was done as the hosts set a daunting target ahead of the Proteas.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 306/7 in 39 overs (Dasun Shanaka 65, Thisara Perera 51*, Kusal Perera 51; JP Duminy 2-35) vs South Africa.