Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a swashbuckling 74 off 51 balls as Sri Lanka beat South Africa by six wickets in the last of the three Twenty20s, on Tuesday (Aug 6). The result not only helped avoid a 3-0 whitewash, it also ensured Sri Lanka retained its No. 1 status in Twenty20.
Already down 0-2 in the series, Sri Lanka was spirited in its chase of South Africa’s 163 for 3 and eventually won with 11 balls to spare. While South Africa won the series 2-1, after losing the One-Day International series 1-4, Tuesday’s win was doubly important for Sri Lanka as a 3-0 whitewash would have pushed it down to No. 3 in the T20 rankings behind Pakistan and South Africa.
Dilshan, who hit nine boundaries, was instrumental in the victory, his second six, off Morne Morkel in the 19th over, taking Sri Lanka past the finish line. Mahela Jayawardene also hit a quickfire 33 in an opening stand of 67 off 35 balls with Dilshan.
Sri Lanka was 123 for 4 in the 16th over when Thisara Perera (25 not out) put on a match-winning stand of 41 with Dilshan for the fifth wicket. With 27 runs needed off 18 balls, Perera scored 21 runs from the 18th over bowled by Wayne Parnell, hitting him for three fours and a six, to ease the pressure.
Earlier, Faf du Plessis, the South Africa captain, hit 85 off 65 balls, and with help from JP Duminy’s unbeaten 34-ball 51, powered South Africa to what appeared to be a challenging total. Du Plessis hit 10 boundaries and three sixes during a third-wicket stand of 112 with Duminy after winning the toss for the third time in a row and electing to bat.
Du Plessis and Duminy put on a century stand after Henry Davids, the opener, was dismissed off the first ball of the match, leg-before to Nuwan Kulasekara. Duminy hit his 100th six in Twenty20 internationals when he lofted Kulasekara over the mid-wicket fence in the 17th over. Du Plessis was dismissed in the final over, bowled by Lakmal.
Sri Lanka had rested Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga for the game. They were replaced by Dilshan and Suranga Lakmal.
(Courtesy: International Cricket Council)