The fourth match of the Hero Cup began with a lot of rain and a lot of frustration.
Quinton de Kock was the new, temporary captain for South Africa, and straight off the bat (pardon the pun) he did what Faf couldn’t, won the toss. South Africa decided to bowl first on his rain affected match.
Rain delay after rain delay, meant players were on and off the field. It was a frustrating day for all concerned, when play started, the game was reduced to 45 overs a side, but a further brief break in play after the 1st over, meant the game was further reduced to 43 overs a side.
South Africa made 3 changes to their playing XI after the last game, Faf was out due to his injury, Rabada took a well-deserved rest, and Shamsi was out.
Heinrich Klaasen finally got a game, Junior Dala was handed his ODI debut and Keshav Maharaj was tried out at an ODI spinner.
Dala making his debut – bowled with good accuracy up front, but a dropped catch off his bowling in the 6th over of the match, where Klaasen got his hands to the ball but it popped out, didn’t help. Tharanga given a life on 7.
The rain came back in the 9th over, with Sri Lanka on 46-0, Dickwella was continuing on his good form from the previous game and was on 31*, while his opening partner, Upul Tharanga was on 8.
There was a further rain delay which reduced the match to 39 overs and shortly after this break, Sri Lanka reached their first 50 opening partnership in this series, they got to 50-0 in the 10th over.
JP Duminy was proving to be a very useful limited overs cricketer in this series. He was brought into the attack in the 10th over and got the breakthrough for the Proteas, getting danger man Dickwella out caught behind. He tried paddling the ball, and the ball bobbled up to captain Quinton de Kock for 34. Sri Lanka were 61-1.
He was in a good spell, he was taking the pace off the ball which was the way to go on that wicket and was causing issues for the Sri Lankan batsmen.
Andile Phehlukwayo, not of the first time this series, was taken out of the attack for being too expensive. He was going at 8 an over. Wiaan Mulder was brought into the attack to replace him in the 15th over and he got smacked for a six by Tharanga. Mulder got the final laugh when the very next ball, he bowled an absolute beauty and Tharanga, who was looking good and starting to branch out, was gone for 36, Sri Lanka were 92-2.
Keshav Maharaj was brought into the attack in the 16th over and he didn’t waste any time in striking. He had Mendis trapped in front for 14 and Sri Lanka now had two new batsmen at the crease, and South Africa had pulled things back by getting the set pair of Tharanga and Mendis out in consecutive overs.
Mulder dropped a tough caught and bowled chance, when Mathews, playing his 200th ODI match was dropped on 1. Mulder did all the hard work, got to the ball, stuck his left hand out, the ball was in but it just didn’t stick. But what I liked what Mulder’s reaction after, he was disappointed with himself, he knew that was a chance and he could’ve done better, that is the passion that I felt was lacking from South Africa’s game last year. Good to see from the young man.
All of South Africa’s bowlers were having a tough day with the ball, Dala, Ngidi & Mulder were going at over 8 an over. A stat showed that South Africa were bowling 62% short balls. They have to learn that tactics that might work at home, simply won’t work on different pitches. They have to adapt. They can’t just bounce everyone out.
Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera came together with Sri Lanka on 195-6, 10 overs later, they had put on 109 runs and took South Africa apart on their way to Perera’s 9th ODI fifty and Shanaka’s maiden ODI fifty. The way Shanaka batted with sheer dominance was spectacular.
South Africa, in typical fashion, let it slip in the final 10 overs. They conceded 105 in the final 10, and 67 in the final five overs. It was quite honestly an ill-disciplined bowling performance. Bowling 22 extras, which included 12 wides is simply unacceptable at this level.
The pitches at the Cricket World Cup will be batting friendly, the batsmen will be looking for boundaries and big runs. South Africa have got to learn how to bowl at the death, they cannot afford to go at over 10 an over then.
South Africa were set 308 to win, in 39 overs. It was going to be tough but not impossible.
Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock started out positively. Quinton bought up his 4000th ODI run and became the 12th South African to get to this milestone.
A further rain delay meant the target was adjusted again to 191 off 21 overs and South Africa were on top. Their run rate was over 11 and the required rate was just over 8. They had just hit 13 runs off the over and QDK tries to go for an expansive stroke, misses a full toss and was bowled for 23. There was no need for that.
Reeza Hendricks could not replicate his same heroics from the previous game as his innings was short-lived, he was out for 2. This bought JP Duminy to the crease, who was in simply sublime form. He and Amla put on 57 quickfire runs before Amla got out for a well played 40.
South Africa were 128-3, their run-rate was 10 and they only needed 7 an over from this point. Things were looking good with Duminy & Klaasen at the crease.
Klaasen tried to be too positive, reaching for a ball that he didn’t have control over, and was gone for 17 and then a suicidal run from Duminy four balls later, meant South Africa were now 130-5.
This was David Miller’s time to shine, to show that he’s not just a flat track bully, that he can take his side home when they’re in a spot of bother. This didn’t happen.
The Proteas still needed just over 7 an over and they were already going at 10, they just had to work the singles, rotate the strike, and hit the bad balls away. There was no need to go looking for big shots and give their wickets away. They lost their last 4 wickets for 34 runs in a mindless batting effort, and Sri Lanka won by 3 runs.
It was a wonderful game of cricket for Sri Lanka, they played with positivity, and intelligence. They thoroughly deserved the win.
South Africa however managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
There is a lot that Ottis Gibson needs to work on in these remaining games before their opening World Cup match against England.
The series now stands at 3-1 with one left to play. The final ODI for this series will be played on Sunday 12th August at 11am SA time.