An all-round South Africa took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match One-Day International series with a convincing seven-wicket victory in the third ODI in Johannesburg on Saturday (February 4).
In a perfect game that started with winning the toss, South Africa’s bowlers first combined to shoot out Sri Lanka for a paltry 163 in 39.2 overs before AB de Villiers’s unbeaten 60 led it to victory in just 32 overs.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen, barring Niroshan Dickwella who made 74, capitulated against a relentless attack in a must-win game. Dwayne Pretorius, playing in his first match of the series, took 3 for 19 in seven overs, while Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, the right-arm pacer, and Imran Tahir took two wickets apiece.
Sri Lanka got off to its best start of the series with Dickwella and Upul Tharanga, the captain, putting on 60 for the first wicket before Tharanga (31) top-edged a pull against Rabada, one ball after Dickwella had been dropped, and was caught at fine leg.
Once Rabada gave the initial breakthrough, Phehlukwayo struck twice more to remove Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal, triggering a collapse. Sri Lanka’s middle-order batting once again proved brittle, especially against short-pitched bowling.
The only batsman to resist was Dickwella, who survived a dropped catch, some hostile bowling and a swarm of bees even as he continued to lose partners.
Dickwella was dropped on 25 when JP Duminy, running back from backward point, could not hold on to a high leading edge from Rabada’s bowling.
There was a delay of an hour after a swarm of bees drove the players from the field after 26.3 overs, and Dickwella was tested several times by some short-pitched deliveries from South Africa’s fast bowlers.
Dickwella’s 80-ball innings ended when he gloved an attempted pull against a short delivery from Pretorius to present Quinton de Kock, the wicketkeeper, with his 100th dismissal in his 72nd ODI.
South Africa lost de Kock in the third over of chase when the left-handed opener chopped Lahiru Kumara, the debutant, onto his stumps, but the meagre target meant they required only a couple of decent partnerships. The top order managed that despite a couple of stumbles, with Faf du Plessis (24) and Hashim Amla (34) making decent contributions before de Villiers finished the job.
Du Plessis, who made a century in the previous ODI, fell to Lahiru Madushanka, the other debutant, in his first over when he popped a catch to backward point. Sri Lanka raised its hopes when Amla was run out looking for a non-existent second run in the 19th over, but de Villiers ensured there would be no comebacks.
The South African captain added 72 unbeaten runs for the fourth wicket with Duminy and completed the formalities with plenty of time to spare.