For the fourth time in a row on this tour, Faf calls and loses the toss. Angelo Mathews decided to bat first on the same pitch that was used on Sunday’s first ODI.
South Africa went in with an unchanged team, which was surprising, given that there are only a limited number of games left before the WC starts, and given the way certain players have been performing of late. But they wanted to stick with a winning team.
South Africa started the bowling well, Lungi Ngidi picked up two wickets in his first over, Upal Tharanga and Kusal Mendis departed in consecutive deliveries to leave Sri Lanka on 13-2. Opener, Niroshan Dickwella remained steady at the other end, and Sri Lanka played positively as Dickwella constructed a very fine half century, his sixth half century in this format, and stood in a 43 run partnership with Kusal Perera.
Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis then turned to his all-rounders, Wiaan Mulder and Andile Phehlukwayo who both needed a better bowling performance after the first ODI. Sri Lanka were 44-2 when they came into the attack, and when they were changed, seven overs later, Sri Lanka had moved onto 68-3.
They both bowled with far greater control and accuracy which was a delight to watch. Phehlukwayo bowled extremely well and got rewarded with a wicket in his first over, that of Kusal Perera which broke the partnership that was growing for the hosts.
The wicket of Perera then brought captain Angelo Mathews to the crease, and he and Dickwella put on a very stubborn 67 run stand, as Mathews went onto score his 36th ODI half century.
Phehlukwayo came back for a second spell and it was here that South Africa turned the screw on their hosts. He bowled Dickwella for 69, which broke the partnership with Mathews.
Mulder and Rabada picked up a wicket each, while Ngidi and Phehlukwayo both picked up their third wickets, as Mathews remained unbeaten on 79. There was slight resistance from Sri Lanka’s lower order from Shehan Jayasuriya (18) and Thisara Perera (19), which allowed Sri Lanka to bat out their 50 overs for a score of 244-8.
What was most encouraging from this bowling display from the Proteas was that it was very fine spell of back-up bowling from the two young all-rounders, Mulder & Phehlukwayo. The death bowling was very good, this is an area where South Africa have typically struggled, but they conceded only 53 runs in the final 10 overs. Phehlukwayo bowled with great control and variation, and Rabada was just as brilliant as ever. This is very encouraging.
Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla started the chase with relative ease, they raced to 67-0 after 10 overs, but they had their fair share of luck. Dropped catches and misfields gave the Protea openers a chance to get some runs. Amla and de Kock were going well at 91-0 before Amla just hits a return catch to Akila Dananjaya for a well-played 43.
Aiden Markram’s horrid tour continued as he was out for 3 off 11 deliveries, to Dananjaya, his trial by spin continuing. He looks completely clueless in the middle, he needs some time away from the game to learn how to play spin. It is doing him no good to keep on getting dismissed for low scores.
Quinton de Kock was just going strong at the other end, he was scoring freely and with good cricket shots, he moved onto 87, on course for his 14th ODI century, before he mistimed a shot and was taken straight down the throat of Suresh Lakmal at the midwicket boundary for an Aussie-unlucky 87. It was such a pleasure to see de Kock in this mode. It had been a while.
Captain Faf du Plessis played a remarkably smooth and fluent innings, he was hitting boundary after boundary, he looked the most at ease against the spin. He was on 49 off 41 deliveries, this was sure to be his first half century of the tour, right? Sadly no, he chipped a return catch back to Dananjaya, who the finished his allotted 10 overs with 3-60. The half century still evades Faf, he’s firmly in the “nervous forties”.
Despite the wicket of David Miller five balls later for 3, South Africa still went on to have a comfortable 4-wicket win, with youngsters Mulder (19*) and Phehlukwayo (7*) guided them to the victory.
South Africa now lead the five match series 2-0, and a win on Sunday will ensure an unassailable 3-0 series win. The momentum is with them, they need to capitalize and make sure they put in another good performance on the weekend.
Team changes I would make for the 3rd ODI would be to drop Markram and Miller.
Markram’s issues with spin are evident, he needs someone to help him, he isn’t going to fix this on his own. He needs to utilise the resources that are available to him. Faf, who can play spin so beautifully is right there. Markram needs to use him, soak in that information. Miller is not consistent and needs to make way for someone who can do a better job. It’s as simple as that.
My team for Sunday would be:
Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks, Faf du Plessis (c), JP Duminy, Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi & Tabraiz Shamsi
The 3rd ODI begins on Sunday 5th August at 06:15 SA time.