ONE = Andrew Fidel Fernando in ESPNcricinfo, 9 August 2018 =“Test-match line and length worked for us – Thisara”
With six overs left in the rain-hit fourth ODI, the ball was wet, and South Africa were ahead of the game, with 43 runs to get, and five wickets in hand. So what did Sri Lanka do? They bowled as if they were playing a Test.
It sounds like an odd move, but in the situation, it turned out to be an inspired one. South Africa had David Miller – one of the cleanest strikers in the world – at the crease, and another batsman to come. Yet they could muster no more than 39 from those 36 deliveries, as Sri Lanka claimed four wickets and squeezed the visitors out in Pallekele.
Suranga Lakmal‘s final over was delivered with an especially unusual limited-overs field. Sri Lanka had six men on the off side and only three on the leg. Lakmal dared Miller to hit across the line, and bowled him with a cutter. His death-bowling partner, Thisara Perera, explained how the senior players had hatched this Test-match plan on the fly.
“In the 15th and 16th overs, we realised that the ball was swinging from one end,” Thisara said. “The ball was still new. So we decided to bowl wicket-to-wicket from that end, and it’s not easy to bat when you bowl like that. We noticed that in our innings as well. So we planned to stick to that line as fast bowlers because they [the batsmen] then have to take the risk to try and hit over the field. What we did in the last few overs was to forget about yorkers, and try to bowl a Test-match line and length. That’s what worked out for us.”
“The bowling had to be good because 190  is a very easy target given the wet conditions, especially after they had hit 21 in the first two overs. But somehow we won.”
That South Africa were even chasing as many as 191 from their 21 overs was thanks in large part to a breakneck seventh-wicket stand between Thisara and Dasun Shanaka earlier in the evening. The pair came together with the score on 195 for 6, with just under 12 overs remaining. But instead of knuckling down to ensure Sri Lanka batted out the full 39 overs, they soon began to attack, hitting seven sixes and seven fours between them. Their partnership of 109 was Sri Lanka’s best of the series, and came from only 67 deliveries.
“As soon as Dasun came, I told him that we shouldn’t stop playing our shots,” Thisara said. “We are both positive batsmen. We planned three overs by three overs at the start. And then after a while, we realised that we were seeing the ball well. So we decided on a target of 280, but we both batted well. Dasun was especially good at hitting boundaries, so we were able to pass 300. A 100-run partnership is not easy, because their bowlers were bowling well and we had lost six wickets already. But as soon as Dasun came, I told him let’s try and hit straight in the first few overs and get ourselves set, and then see after that.”
Shanaka provided the better hand in the partnership, hitting 65 off 34 balls, while Thisara made 51 off 45. It was an especially important innings for Shanaka, who had not played an ODI since November 2016. This knock may go some way towards convincing the Sri Lanka selectors that he should be part of their World Cup plans.
“Actually what I had wanted to do was to support Thisara, because he is the best death-overs batsman in Sri Lanka – he can hit a six at any time,” Shanaka said of his knock. “I wanted to stay with him till the end and play that supporting role. When he started batting well, I got a few loose balls. When they tried to bowl short at him, they also bowled short at me, so I was able to hit sixes.”
TWO = Firdose Moonda: “Lower order, Lakmal end Sri Lanka’s losing run,” … ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka 306 for 7 in 39 overs (Shanaka 65, Thisara 51*, Duminy 2-35) beat South Africa 187 for 9 in 21 overs (Amla 40, Duminy 38, Lakmal 3-46) by three runs (DLS method)
Suranga Lakmal defended seven runs off the final over to cap off Sri Lanka’s most inspired showing in the field and best batting performance of the series so far and end an 11-match losing streak against South Africa.
After rain interrupted both innings, South Africa’s target was reduced to 191 runs off 21 overs and they looked set to reach it. They needed 69 runs off the last 10 overs with seven wickets in hand when Sri Lanka started a squeeze which became a strangle. South Africa lost six wickets for 54 runs as Thisara Perera and Lakmal took Sri Lanka to their first win in the five-match series.
Sri Lanka created a position of strength for themselves from the start of the match. Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella put on their first opening partnership over 50 in the series, Kusal Perera scored a quickfire half-century, Thisara added a fifty of his own and Dasun Shanaka, playing his 10th ODI and first since November 2016, top-scored with 65 off 34 balls.
The only South African bowler who was somewhat spared was the most experienced. JP Duminy was the only member of the attack who conceded at under six runs to the over as the inexperience of the rest of the pack, who were without Kagiso Rabada, showed.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will take confidence from their much-improved efforts albeit against a South African XI missing many of its regulars. The depth of the South African attack was tested throughout Sri Lanka’s time at the crease and the young seamers struggled with consistency of length and line in damp conditions.
Dickwella took advantage as soon as Lungi Ngidi went too full and was particularly severe on debutant Junior Dala, off whom he took three fours in the eighth over. Duminy, who was introduced in the 10th over, ended the opening stand when Dickwella got a leading edge trying to paddle him past Quinton de Kock but that did little to stop the runs. Tharanga took over from where Dickwella left off and sent Andile Phehlukwayo for back-to-back fours and Wiaan Mulder for a six over long-off. Mulder had the last laugh in that situation when he bowled Tharanga with an offcutter but his yo-yo outing saw him finish as South Africa’s most expensive bowler.
Keshav Maharaj made his first appearance in the series and had Kusal Mendis lbw with the score on 100 but then Sri Lanka wrested control. Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews put on 59 runs for the fourth wicket, and both fell to rash shots. Mathews threw his bat at a delivery outside off, got a thick outside edge and de Kock flung himself to his right to pluck the ball out of the air while Kusal Perera, after bringing up fifty off 28 balls, holed out to long-on.
That left Thisara to launch the late assault and he did not disappoint, though he was overshadowed by his junior partner. Shanaka’s first shot in anger was a slog-sweep over midwicket off Duminy and he then thumped Mulder over mid-off, sent an Andile Phehlukwayo slower ball over midwicket, hoicked Dala off his hips and then took 21 runs off Dala’s final over to bring up fifty off 30 balls. By then, Thisara had joined in on the fun too and almost took Ngidi’s hand off as he slammed the ball past him for four, smoked him for six over midwicket and found six more over Ngidi’s head. Thisara’s fifty came off 44 balls.
Sri Lanka scored 105 runs in the last ten overs to finish on 306 and South Africa’s target was revised to 308 runs in 39 overs at an asking rate of 7.9, which then became even tougher when the rain returned after two overs of the reply. South Africa were 21 without loss and were off the field for an hour and a quarter. When they returned, they had to score 170 runs from the remaining 19 overs, at an asking rate of 10.50.
De Kock, in his first match as captain, grabbed the chase by the scruff of the neck and was on 23 off 12 balls when he was bowled by a Lakmal full-toss as he tried to cut. Reeza Hendricks, the centurion from the third match, drove Shanaka to cover, where Dhananjaya de Silva needed a second attempt at the catch, so it was up to Hashim Amla to steady things.
Amla’s fluency returned and with Duminy at the other end, the boundary was plundered often. The pair put on 57 for the third wicket and had South Africa on track. But when Amla was dismissed, slicing an Akila Dananjaya ball to point, Sri Lanka started to claw their way back.
Mathews took a low catch at extra cover to dismiss Heinrich Klaasen and Duminy was run-out by a Shanaka direct-hit at the non-striker’s end in the same over, leaving the crowd clearing their throats as South Africa stumbled. They were 130 for 5 after 13 overs, needing 61 runs from 48 balls. Phehlukwayo slammed two fours off Lahiru Kumara but was bowled by Thisara while playing across the line, and Mulder was caught off a pull shot by Dhananjaya at short midwicket which left David Miller with Keshav Maharaj and the tail.
Miller needed to keep strike, with Maharaj’s penchant to swing wildly, and the balance between run-scoring and run-refusal was delicate. Maharaj got lucky with an inside egde off Lakmal past the keeper and showed some measure of his batting ability when he struck Thirsara back over his head for four but missed an attempt to slap him through cover again and was bowled. At that stage, South Africa needed eight off the final over and when Miller tried to go big off the second ball, a well-disguised slower delivery, he played on to end South Africa’s challenge.
THREE: Rex Clementine =“Sri Lanka win last ball thriller,” in Island, 9 August 2018
Sri Lanka ended their unprecedented losing streak against South Africa in One-Day Internationals with a last ball thriller at the Pallekele International Stadium last night. Chasing a revised target of 191 to win off 21 overs, the tourists needed eight runs off the last over. Suranga Lakmal kept his nerve bowling to one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket – David Miller – to give Sri Lanka a three run win.
In a game affected by rain, Sri Lanka had posted 306 for seven thanks to half-centuries from Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera and Kusal Janith Perera. A further rain interruption saw South Africa’s target being reduced to 191. They were well set at one point having reached 129 for three and required 61 off 52 deliveries.
Thisara Perera bowled a superb spell to pull the game back in Sri Lanka’s favour, but an eighth wicket stand between Keshav Maharaj and David Miler worth 28 runs off 20 deliveries brought the Proteas closer to taking a 4-0 lead in the five match series.
Perera then cleaned up Maharaj in the last ball of the penultimate over leaving South Africa with eight runs in the last over. Suranga Lakmal was entrusted to bowl the last over and he outsmarted Miller, who has an ODI strike rate of over 100.
Miller declined a single off the first ball with debutant Junior Dala at the other end, but the next delivery he played on leaving the South African last pair to knock eight runs off remaining four deliveries. That set up the game for Sri Lanka as Lakmal kept his composure to seal the game.
This was Sri Lanka’s first win over South Africa after 11 successive defeats.
The day belonged to all-rounder Dasun Shanaka, who smashed a career best 65 off just 34 deliveries with four fours and five sixes.
He went past his previous best of 42 by scooping Junior Dala over fine leg for six and two balls later brought up his half-century with a pulled six. He also came up with a game changing run out of J.P. Duminy with a direct hit from mid-off.
At 195 for six in the 28th over, Sri Lanka could have lost the plot, but a record 109 run stand between Shanaka and Thisara Perera, who smashed an unbeaten 51 off 45 deliveries with three fours and two sixes ensured Sri Lanka posted commanding total.
The stand is a new record for ODIs between Sri Lanka and South Africa improving on the 101 run partnership between Boeta Dippenar and Mark Boucher in 2002 in Morocco.
Sri Lanka seem to have fixed their problems with the likes of Shanaka and Perera showing signs of making most of the death overs. However, their fielding was found to be wanting with more misfields and dropped catches.