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POSTED AT 10:13 AM 09-08-2018

Lanka end 11-match losing streak with nail-biting 3-run (D/L) win

Dasun Shanaka celebrates his maiden ODI fifty with Thisara Perera (non-striker) in the fourth ODI against South Africa played at the Pallekele International Stadium yesterday. Pictures by Susantha Wijegunasekera

PALLEKELE, Wednesday: Sri Lanka ended their 11-match losing streak to South Africa when they pulled off a nail-biting three-run win under the Duckworth and Lewis rain rule in the fourth ODI played under lights at the Pallekele International Stadium yesterday.

In a rain-truncated game reduced to 39 overs Sri Lanka came up with their best batting performance of the series to run up an impressive score of 306 for seven wickets after being invited to bat first.

South Africa’s run chase was interrupted by bad weather and when they resumed play they were asked to chase a revised target of 191 in 21 overs. They were off to a blazing start with Quinton de Kock (23) and Hashim Amla (40) putting on 34 for the first wicket off three overs. The momentum was maintained by Jean-Paul Duminy and as long as he was at the wicket South Africa fancied their chances. At one stage they looked like walking away with the match when they were 129-3 at the start of the 13th over with Duminy that great finisher going great guns.

But Dasun Shanaka gave Sri Lanka that slight edge when he ran out Duminy for 38 with a direct hit from mid-off to make South Africa 130-5 in 13 overs. There was still the dangerous David Miller to contend with but strangely he was off colour as Sri Lanka kept on chipping away with wickets at the other end.

When the final over began South Africa required eight runs to win but Suranga Lakmal bowling the crucial over took the vital wicket of Miller who was bowled off an inside edge as he attempted to hit across the line for 21 and suddenly South Africa were nine down for 183.

The task proved too big for the last pair Junior Dala and Lungi Ngidi who could manage only four between them as Lakmal bowled a tight and tidy over to end the match to give their captain Mathews a memorable 200th ODI appearance. South Africa finished on 187-9.

Sri Lanka were given a solid platform by openers Niroshan Dickwella (34) and Upul Tharanga (36) who put on 61 off 69 balls.

Following their dismissals the tempo was maintained by Kusal Perera who raced to an aggressive half century (51) off 32 balls with the aid of six fours and two sixes. Perera figured in a 59-run stand with his Mathews who made 22.

However the best part of the Lankan batting came from two of the biggest hitters in the game Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka who clobbered the South African bowlers to all parts of the ground as they raised 109 off 67 balls to erase the previous record for the series of 101 between Boeta Dippenaar and Mark Boucher at Tangier, Morocco in 2002.

Shanaka in particular was severe on the bowlers who in the absence of their key strike bowler Kagiso Rabada (who was rested for this game) were made to look pretty ordinary. Junior Dala who took Rabada’s place in the team went for 64 runs off his 8 overs without taking a wicket on his ODI debut and Lungi Ngidi was hit for 65 runs although he took two wickets.

A Dilscoop for four off Dala took Shanaka past his previous highest score of 42 and after hitting the bowler for four off a wide full toss he reached his maiden ODI half-century in style off 30 balls with a six over midwicket. He was out in the final over for 65 having thumped five sixes and four fours in his 34-ball cameo. He deservedly won the Man of the Match

Thisara Perera completed his ninth ODI fifty and was unbeaten on 51 scored off 45 balls with two sixes and three fours when the innings ended.

The Lankan batting was a complete contrast to how they had performed in the first three ODIs. There was intent in their approach and as they found out for themselves the South African bowling was not at all effective as they had made it out to be in the previous matches. Perhaps Rabada made the difference because without him South Africa failed to achieve those early breakthroughs which had limited the Lankan batting in the early matches.

South Africa made three changes with Maharaj, Hienrich Klaasen and Junior Dala (making his ODI debut) replacing Rabada, Shamsi and injured captain Du Plessis. Sri Lanka affected one change with Dasun Shanaka replacing Prabath Jayasuriya.

SA’ADI THAWFEEQ reporting from Pallekele