The final ODI between Sri Lanka and South Africa took place on Sunday 12th August.
South Africa had already won the series so the pressure was off, but there were still two games to play. Could they keep up with the momentum? Could they avoid getting complacent?
The sad answer to these questions, was no.
For some odd reason, South Africa decided to play Kagiso Rabada for the final game. I do not see a good enough reason for them to play him, given the fact the series was already won. What good could have come from playing him?
Lungi Ngidi is inexperienced, he needs game time. If South Africa, truly are looking at building a World Cup squad, they need to give their youngsters a good run before their opening game. They should have played both Junior Dala and Ngidi and rested Rabada.
That was not the only odd team selection that transpired. David Miller was also “rested” – from what exactly? He played only 4 ODIs, what does he need to be rested for? With Faf already injured and back home, the Proteas needed someone with experience in the middle order, they couldn’t just leave it to Duminy to bolster the middle order.
So let’s talk about the game.
South Africa lost the toss and bowled first. Their bowling was poor and inconsistent. It was only Keshav Maharaj would bowled a brilliant spell, going at only 3.2/over in his allotment of 10 overs.
Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews scored a brilliant 97*, he stood in two fifty run partnerships with Dhananjaya de Silva (53), who made 30 & Thisara Perera (52), who made 13.
South Africa conceded 93 runs in the final 10 overs, this is after conceding 105 in the final 10 in the previous match. This is something Ottis Gibson, as bowling coach, has got to sort out. South Africa cannot concede so many runs against top quality opposition in the World Cup. Instead of chasing a respectable target, they’ll wind up chasing an exceptional one due to their poor death bowling. This is not a new problem and it’s not going to go away by itself. It will take effort.
Thanks to a solid batting effort from Sri Lanka, four fifty-plus partnerships in their innings and a wonderful half century from Mathews, only missing out on his century by 7 runs, Sri Lanka set the imposing target of 300 to win.
South Africa were never in the chase, a peach of a delivery from Suranga Lakmal had Hashim Amla back in the hut for a duck. Aiden Markram was back in the side and enjoyed batting against the pace of Lakmal for a brief cameo of 20, before Akila Dananjaya took his wicket, and then found himself on a hat-trick the very next ball when he had Reeza Hendricks out for a golden duck.
It was beautiful bowling from Dananjaya who took the heart out of the Proteas batting, on course to his second 5-fer in ODIs, getting match figures of 6-29 in his 9 overs.
South Africa had a disastrous and pathetic batting performance, no fight was demonstrated. It was only stand-in captain, Quinton de Kock who put up some resistance, with a lovely 54 off 57 deliveries.
Only de Kock (54), Markram (20), Duminy (12) & Rabada (12) got into double figures. The rest of the batting was just embarrassingly poor. They lost their last six wickets for 36 runs. Inexcusable.
It was also odd that Duminy, the only experienced player in the middle order, came in at 6. With South Africa in trouble at 3-31 after Hendricks’ dismissal, he should have been the one to walk to the middle, not Klaasen.
Sri Lanka overpowered South Africa inside 25 overs, for their lowest total against and in Sri Lanka in a one day international, 121. They were deserved winners, winning by the huge margin of 178 runs. They put in an all-round better performance over South Africa in the final two games.
South Africa won the series, 3-2, and whilst that is a good achievement considering the drubbing they got in the Test series, the manner in which they lost the final two matches is cause for concern.