Markrams 96 and van der Dussens 59 in vain as South Africa 14 is running out
Sri Lanka 300 for 9 (Avishka 118, Asalanka 72, Maharaj 2-30) beat South Africa 286 for 6 (Markram 96, van der Dussen 59, Dananjaya 2-65) with 14 runs
Sri Lanka scored 90 runs in the last 10 overs of its innings and defended 90 in the last 10 overs from South Africa to take the series lead and 10 points in the World Cup Super League standings. History has been on the hosts’ side, and no team has ever successfully hunted over 300 in a day-night game on the island. South Africa, 210 for 3 after 40 overs, were well placed but Sri Lanka’s attack kept their nerve.Wanindu Hasaranga and Akila Dananjaya combined well for seven overs, with Dananjaya eliminating the well-seeded Rassie van der Dussen for a run-a-ball. Then left Dushmantha Chameera and Chamika Karunaratne 37 to fend off the final three overs a combination of slower balls and full-length deliveries, the pair kept South Africa at 286.South Africa’s comeback suffered its first major dent when captain Temba Bavuma was injured and retired after 28 overs. Bavuma was hit on the right thumb two overs earlier after shoving the ball into midwicket and then trying to avoid the outfield player’s throw. He immediately removed his glove, which showed some blood and swelling, and received on-site attention for a few minutes and continued, but not for long.By this point, Bavuma and Aiden Markram had split on a 106-run second wicket stand, Markram was 91 and South Africa scored an over of 5.53 runs, below the required run rate of 6.63 but under Control. Seventeen deliveries later, Markram was also on the move, caught by a diving Hasaranga in deep cover as he tried to free the rope in search of a first ODI century. Markram fell four short and could not outdo Avishka Fernando, whose 118 of 115 balls led Sri Lanka to 300.Aiden Markram plays vigilant towards the center of Gallo Images / Getty ImagesAs disappointed as South Africa may be with their clout, they have lost most of their time on the field and will want to consider both the makeup of their attack and their approach to these conditions. South Africa opted for just five bowlers on the front line and relied on Markram’s part-time offspin for six overs. Her quicks, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, were too short, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo lacked control and Shamsi was inconsistent. However, Keshav Maharaj was outstanding. He made his most economic return in ODI cricket, becoming the only South African weirdo Imran Tahir to pocket 30 runs or fewer in nearly a decade in a decade.What Maharaj lacked was what Sri Lanka had – someone to help keep things tight. Sri Lanka’s spin trio – Hasaranga, Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama – bowled 28 overs and conceded 134 runs at a rate of less than five per over, but did not cause the expected damage. On the whole, South Africa handled them well, especially Markram who is a much improved player who got 0 and 3 on a tour to Sri Lanka three years ago.
By the time Markram was fired, South Africa had two new thugs at goal in van der Dussen and Kyle Verreynne and they needed time to get in. Five limitless overs followed at a crucial stage in the pursuit before van der Dussen swept through the back square leg. He played that shot and the backward sweep almost entirely, and they got him runs, but not fast enough. Verreynne was less productive, using 20 balls to only get 12 before falling out with lbw.
Van der Dussen and Heinrich Klaasen formed a partnership of 51, but always played catching up and when van der Dussen played himself in the reverse sweep, South Africa was almost no longer on the track. Phehlukwayo was in 7th place, which seems too high a place for him – the length of the South African line-up will be another topic of conversation. Sri Lankas, on the other hand, looked more than long enough.
Charith Asalanka reaches out to sweep Ishara S.Kodikara / AFP / Getty Images
Avishka and Minod Bhanuka scored 41 runs against an opening pedestrian kick in the first six overs and only dried up with the introduction of Maharaj in the seventh over and Markram in the tenth over. The pair bowled eight overs in tandem and gave away only 25 runs. It is crucial that you also take two wickets with you. Bhanuka was thrown from a Markram Arm Ball when he missed a slog sweep and four balls later, Bhanuka Rajapaksa became the only Sri Lankan batter to fail that day when he dived deep in front of Maharaj. Sri Lanka was 58 for 2 in the 13th round but South Africa were unable to keep the pressure up.
Phehlukwayo missed the first limit after more than 50 balls when he angled his first throw down and Dhananjaya de Silva gave him a fine leg for four. de Silva lived dangerously thereafter, hitting Shamsi just over the middle where he dodged Phehlukwayo’s outstretched hand and was dropped to 30 when he offered Shamsi a catch back when it was raining. A 25-minute delay gave de Silva and South Africa time to regroup, although that didn’t seem to be of much use. The batter was dropped back to 33 when he got a big edge from a late cut against Maharaj, but Klaasen couldn’t hold a slim chance. De Silva was eventually caught off guard by Klaasen after stretching Maharaj with his back foot just outside the line.
By this point, Avishka had made his half-century up to Midwicket on a single, and the time was ripe for the innings to get some momentum going. Charith Asalanka made it available. He took on the spinners, collecting 18 out of the first 16 balls he faced before Avishka freed his arms to hit a hard Rabada rash over a deep back square in the first six of the innings. When Rabada tried the leg trimmer, Avishka yanked it off his hips for four, and when Phehukwayo took the ball off, he haunted him through extra cover. He reached his century with a single from Phehlukwayo, then plundered 13 from a Nortje and appeared to be looking to see Sri Lanka through to the end but was misled by a Shamsi he showed up to the point.Akila Dananjaya has suffered a couple of pivotal blows, according to AFP / Getty ImagesAsalanka’s dismissal of his senior partner did not stop him. He reached half a century with 51 two-run balls ahead of Nortje and built on that when South Africa lost its way towards the end. Nortje’s last over cost 15 runs as he finished with 0 for 69 and Rabada gave away six extras in his last two overs. It was too much for the Batters and always could have been, especially since the highest total successfully hunted in a day-night game in the country is 288.
In the end, Sri Lanka scored crucial points in the World Cup Super League table and moved up to eighth place, while South Africa slipped to eleventh place. They have only successfully completed one chase with a score of over 270 since they beat Australia at an ODI home in Bloemfontein in 2018 after setting such a target ten times.
Firdose Moonda is the South Africa correspondent for ESPNcricinfo