After a valiant South African run chase in which Aiden Markram (96) and Rassie van der Dussen (59) played valiant roles in their first ODI against Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday, a victory target of 301 proved too much.
In the end, Avishka Fernando’s superb 118 and some excellent death bowling by Sri Lanka’s pace bowlers were enough for the home team to win by 14 runs in an entertaining, high-quality match that saw 586 runs scored.
For winning the three-match series, Sri Lanka earned 10 valuable points in the ODI Super League log.
South Africa were aggressive in their run chase and will point to an unfortunate incident in the 26th over, when their captain, Temba Bavuma, was forced to retire hurt after being hit by a throw from a fielder in the outfield. He and Markram had put on 106 for the second wicket, and the visitors appeared to be in good shape for an unlikely victory. At the ground, no team has ever scored 300 points to win.
Bavuma, who was outside his crease, raised his right hand to block a throw and was struck in the thumb by a terrifying blow. He appeared to be in pain and received extensive treatment on the field, but he was forced to leave the game soon after.
The visitors were then dealt a double blow when Markram, who had played brilliantly for his 96 in 90 balls, including five fours and four sixes, made his first error, miscuing a drive off Praveen Jayawickrama into the covers, where Wanindu Hasaringa took a magnificent catch, diving forward to clutch the ball when it appeared to be bouncing in front of him.
BOWLING FOR DEATH IN AN EXTREMELY TIGHT ENVIRONMENT
South Africa were given hope after Rassie van der Dussen’s brilliant run-a-ball 59, in which he played a series of superb sweeps and reverse-sweeps, but they were dashed when he was bowled by Dananjaya de Silva while trying to play another reverse sweep.
Despite the fact that Heinrich Klaasen batted in the final overs to reach 36, the Sri Lankan pacemen Duthmantha Chameera and Chamika Karunaratne bowled some tight “death” bowling to seal the game. South Africa required 32 runs in the final two overs, which proved too much.
Of course, no one will ever know what would have happened if Bavuma – who had gone to the hospital for a scan – hadn’t taken the unfortunate blow, but he and Markram appeared to be in good spirits when it happened. With Markram taking the lead and Bavuma providing vital assistance, the two players had contributed 106 in 110 balls. The Proteas had reached 155 for one in 28 overs when Bavuma exited the field.
South Africa can take a lot of positives from the game, said to Keshav Maharaj, who bowled wonderfully to record 2/30 in his 10 overs.
“Temba is having a scan; we’ll find out how it goes tomorrow. I’m confident he’ll be OK since he’s a warrior. We made a few blunders, but there were a lot of positives as well. We attempted to remain as long as we could in the chase. Temba’s injury was the turning point, because he and Aiden had been doing so well up until that time, but credit to Sri Lanka’s bowlers for keeping their nerve.”
FLICK OF REMARKABLE VALUE
Maharaj stated of his on-field performance, “I attempted to hit my spots and try to be as consistent as possible.” I tried to read the batter and figure out where they intended to score off of me, and it worked out. We had done a fantastic job of preparing. “I felt the batters did a fantastic job.”
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s imposing total of 300 for nine was boosted by a magnificent century from opener Avishka Fernando.
Fernando, who was particularly tough on South Africa’s fast bowlers, hit 10 fours and two sixes in 115 balls, his third at this level in just 24 ODIs, the first of which was a stunning flip over midwicket off Kagiso Rabada.
Fernando’s control was outstanding throughout his inning. Initially aggressive against Rabada, who went for 22 runs in his first three-over session, the opening was then put under great strain by South Africa’s spinners, notably Maharaj.
Maharaj and part-time offspinner Markram both bowled Minod Bhanuka for 27 runs as the opener tried a slog-sweep. Bhanuka Rajapaksa was caught at deep midwicket by Kyle Verreynne for a duck, nearly immediately following Markram’s breakthrough.
MATURITY AT ITS BEST
On a sluggish surface with a thick outfield, Sri Lanka was on the back foot for a while as Maharaj, Markram, and initially Tabraiz Shamsi contributed to restrict the run rate.
Fernando, on the other hand, played with great maturity and added 79 in 109 balls for the third wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva before Maharaj took his second wicket, fooling De Silva through the air and allowing wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen to execute a brilliant stumping. De Silva scored 44 runs in 61 deliveries.
After putting in the hard work, Fernando and Charith Asalanka were able to let free in the most fruitful partnership of the innings, putting up 97 for the fourth wicket in just 71 balls. The two guys took advantage of some sloppy bowling by the South African pacemen, who bowled too short most of the time, but they also raced beautifully between the wickets, turning several singles into doubles.
Fernando achieved his century in the 41st over before succumbing to Shamsi in the 43rd over. Asalanka, the left-handed batsman, then took up the run-scoring, hitting a career-best 72 in 62 balls to help his team go close to their final total.
Apart from Maharaj, the South African bowlers were a mixed bag, with Markram providing solid support with 1/33 in six overs and Shamsi being more expensive with 1/55 in ten overs. The pace bowlers, on the other hand, were awful, surrendering 135 runs between them, with Andile Phehlukwayo being the most costly, leaking 37 runs in five overs.
SRI LANKA: Avishka Fernando, Minod Bhanuka (wk), Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka (capt), Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya, Praveen Jayawickrama, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karuna
Aiden Markram, Janneman Malan, Temba Bavuma (captain), Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi