JOHANNESBURG: South Africa strolled to a 45-run DLS victory over Sri Lanka to seal a clean sweep in their three-match T20I series.
The hosts were asked to bat first by Lasith Malinga and after losing Aiden Markram for 15 inside the Powerplay, never took their foot off the tourists’ throat. Reeza Hendricks timed his innings to perfection and registered his second consecutive fifty with 66 off 52 but he played second fiddle to Dwaine Pretorius who stole the show with devastating hitting.
The all-rounder was given a rare opportunity at No. 3 and wowed his home crowd with seven fours and three sixes on his way to an unbeaten 77 from just 42 deliveries. Skipper JP Duminy played a breezy cameo of 34 not out from 14 as he saw his side to an intimidating 198.
Sri Lanka’s chase got off to a perfect start as Niroshan Dickwella and Dhananjaya de Silva raced to 42 without loss from just four overs. Pretorius then continued his fine day out by finding the breakthrough – de Silva LBW for 8 – which precipitated the collapse. Dickwella (38) and Avishka Fernando (1) both fell to Andile Phehlukwayo slower balls in the sixth over.
Junior Dala then bagged himself a brace across two overs before Hendricks pulled off a remarkable direct hit to send Thisara Perera back for 8 and leave Sri Lanka floundering at 96/6. Just as it was in Cape Town, Sri Lanka’s hopes rested with Isuru Udana who attacked from the outset before a Highveld thunder storm brought a halt to proceedings.
When the sides emerged the revised target was 183 which meant Sri Lanka needed 72 from 35 balls. Udana hit Phehlukwayo for six over cover to move to 36 but it would be the bowler who had the final say. Another slower ball was sent to long off where David Miller completed a difficult catch (his third of the match).
Phehlukwayo ended the over with the wicket of Malinga to finish with a career best haul of 4/24. Youngster Lutho Sipamla received some tap earlier in the night but he finished well with two wickets of his own as he wrapped up the Sri Lanka innings.
Pretorius rightly earned the Player of the Match award and Hendricks took home the Player of the Series accolade. Both were outstanding with the bat and will give Proteas fans some comfort ahead of the Men’s Cricket World Cup in May. As for Sri Lanka, Udana has been a revelation but there are more questions than answers for a side short of confidence with the white ball.