Sri Lanka edge South Africa in rain-affected run-fest

By Sports Desk August 08, 2018

Sri Lanka regained a measure of pride in the fourth ODI, holding their nerve to defeat South Africa by three runs in a thrilling rain-affected encounter on Wednesday.

The Proteas came into this clash holding an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, but the tourists were undone as they fell just short under the leadership of stand-in captain Quinton de Kock.

Kusal Perera, Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera all starred with the bat for the home side, clubbing rapid fifties - Shanaka, on his first ODI appearance in almost two years, the standout with four fours and five sixes in a 34-ball 65 that propelled Sri Lanka to 306-7 from just 39 overs.

A lengthy shower in the early stages of the second innings left South Africa needing 191 from 21 overs - an equation reduced to eight from the last with David Miller on strike but with only two wickets in hand.

And Suranga Lakmal struck the decisive blow, bowling Miller via an inside edge as the Proteas could only reach 187-9 to leave the Kandy crowd jubilant.

Following a couple of early rain delays, Sri Lanka made steady progress with openers Niroshan Dickwella (34) and Upul Tharanga (36) getting starts but at below a run a ball.

Kusal added some impetus, crunching six fours and a pair of maximums en route to a 32-ball 51 before his fun was ended by JP Duminy.

But it was his dismissal that brought Thisara and Shanaka together, the pair hammering 109 in 11.1 overs as the Proteas lost their way at the death - the latter taking 20 from five deliveries in the penultimate set of six bowled by ODI debutant Junior Dala.

Thisara (51 not out from 45) reached his half-century in the final over and after South Africa's reply was halted just two overs in, De Kock perished from the sixth ball following the resumption, missing a Lakmal full toss.

Hashim Amla (40) and Duminy (38) set the foundation for the chase with a 57-stand, ended when the former skewed Akila Dananjaya to backward point. Duminy was looking dangerous, having clubbed three fours and two sixes before he was superbly run out by Shanaka aiming at one stump.

Miller (21 off 17) and Keshav Maharaj (17 from 14) were South Africa's last vestiges of hope, and when both departed in the space of three balls late in the piece, Sri Lanka were able to celebrate avoiding a whitewash.

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    Only 13 overs were bowled on the final day due to the weather, with Mendis (141 not out) and Mathews (120no) taking their unbroken fourth-wicket stand to 274.

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    Williamson said New Zealand ran out of ideas after Sri Lanka moved on to 287-3 before the rain brought the match to a premature end.

    Asked what he might have done differently, the New Zealand captain quipped: "Maybe everything.

    "I don't know. Everything we did didn't provide too many opportunities. We sat down and had a number of conversations with other senior players and said 'what's something else we can try?' We tried pretty much all of it.

    "Very rarely do you go a whole day where there's not an opportunity – regardless of what you try. That's a credit to the way the two Sri Lankan batsmen played, to deny us for the whole day."

    He added: "There wasn't much happening,

    "Nothing was carrying through to the keeper. We tried a number of short deliveries which we'd like to think might have brought about something foreign in terms of strokeplay, but it was very difficult.

    "It's tough when there isn't some assistance. Not that you expect a lot, but whether it's turn or some variable bounce - you can apply some pressure in a way. It did flatten out a lot and made life fairly difficult."

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    The weather had the final say on the fifth day in Wellington, where only 53 minutes of play were possible before umpires called off proceedings at 16:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Wednesday.

    Unbeaten centuries from Angelo Mathews (120) and Kusal Mendis (141) on Tuesday had frustrated New Zealand, with the tourists enjoying a wicketless day to be 259-3 at stumps.

    Mathews and Mendis had rescued Sri Lanka from 13-3 and the pair improved their remarkable fourth-wicket partnership to 274 as the visitors moved to 287-3 and within nine runs of the Kiwis before the gloomy weather washed out proceedings.

    Tim Southee – who claimed eight wickets for the match – was the pick of the Black Caps' bowlers with 2-52, while Trent Boult (1-62) was the only other wicket-taker.

    The two-Test series will be decided in Christchurch, starting Boxing Day.

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