The third ODI between Sri Lanka and South Africa at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium was a chance for South Africa to set things right on this tour. A win in the third ODI meant a series win, and although Faf had previously said that he’s not looking at series wins as the be-all and end-all, even he must admit, a series win would be nice.
South Africa made only one change to their playing XI, dropping the struggling Aiden Markram for debutant Reeza Hendricks. I was of the firm belief that Hendricks should have been playing from the first ODI, but I was glad he was given the opportunity in this game.
South Africa got off to a very positive start, Hashim Amla was in sublime touch, he raced along to 38 off 28 balls, hitting all of South Africa’s 8 boundaries, as he notched up his 36th ODI half century.
Quinton de Kock, at the other end, was not in the best of touches, and he was out for 2, at the end of the 6th over, playing a poor shot. This brought Hendricks to the crease.
Hendricks looked at ease, he looked comfortable, he looked in control, on course to his maiden ODI century on his debut. He got to his century in the 35th over, with no nervous nineties in sight. He hit two beautifully placed boundaries to bring up the fastest ODI century on debut off 88 balls, hitting 8 fours and 1 six. He was also the third South African to get an ODI century on debut. It was a wonderful innings to see, he played the spin well, he played pace well. It was a lovely innings.
I tweeted when Hendricks came to the crease that Markram must be cursing the world, because in all of his 6 innings’ on this tour thus far, he’s had to face spin, but Hendricks faced pace in his first game. It’s a cruel world but it was great to see Markram cheering his team-mate on when he got to his century and being happy for him.
Hendricks was dismissed immediately after scoring his century, which then brought Duminy and Miller together.
JP Duminy has been in wonderful form this series, and he continued that in this game. He was hitting the ball so sweetly and cleanly, and made 92 runs off only 70 balls, with 8 fours and 4 maximums. He was in a 103 run partnership with David Miller, who scored 51 off 47.
Miller and Duminy went into overdrive in the last 10 overs of the innings, the Proteas hit 114 runs in the final 10 overs, and a mammoth 71 runs in the final 5 overs.
It was carnage.
South Africa set a target of 364.
Sri Lanka started their chase briskly, although the constant wickets were hampering their progress. Lungi Ngidi, whilst expensive, picked up 4-57 in 8 overs. Andile Phehlukwayo had another good game with the ball, although he was expensive too, going at over 8 runs an over, he picked up three wickets, finishing on 3-74.
Kagiso Rabada went wicket-less, but his economy rate was fantastic. On a belter of a pitch, he went at just over 4 runs on over. That is remarkable. It is no secret that bowling partnerships are just as important as batting partnerships, you have to bowl in tandem. The fact KG was going for so few runs meant the batsmen had to make a plan with the others.
South Africa’s captain, Faf du Plessis, took a nasty fall while diving for a catch and fell awkwardly on his troublesome right shoulder. He went off the field to apply ice and didn’t feature again during Sri Lanka’s innings as a precaution.
Dhananjaya de Silva and Akila Dananjaya put together a 95 run partnership, as Sri Lanka was still hoping for a win. de Silva brought up his 4th ODI half century in his 84, but the run rate was increasing and Sri Lanka were running out of batsmen. Phehlukwayo broke this stand as he had de Silva caught behind on review. SL were 273-8 and the required rate was over 11.
Sri Lanka were bowled out in the 46th over, for 285 and South Africa won the match by 78 runs.
This was about the best batting I’ve seen from a Proteas line up for a while. The runs were shared, which was evident by the fact it was the 13th time South Africa had four 50+ scores in an ODI innings.
Yes it’s true that we must not get carried away with this series win and think that South Africa are looking good for the World Cup. That is still a long way away and South Africa still have some areas to sort out. Some may also say that this win doesn’t count for a lot because it’s “only” a weakened Sri Lanka, but they can only beat who is in front of them, and they’ve done a fine job at that by playing some good one-day cricket. This is a good start to build on for World Cup preparation.
South Africa have won the series, and take an unassailable 3-0 lead into the 4th match on Wednesday 8th August.