Brilliant bowling at death from Sri Lanka helped them restrict the Proteas on 286/6, clinching a 14-run victory in the first ODI in Colombo. Earlier, a stunning century from Avishka Fernando had powered them to 300/9.
The win has given Sri Lanka 10 points in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League standings and they are now eighth on the table.
Chasing 301, South Africa got off to a good start with their openers Janneman Malan and Aiden Markram providing a solid foundation. But the visitors lost Malan’s wicket – trapped in front for 23 by Wanindu Hasaranga – with their score reading 49/1 after 10 overs.
But Markram remained unperturbed as he kept batting with grit. The bowlers toiled in vain but Markram and Temba Bavuma took full advantage of the attack. Bavuma retired hurt after the 28th over on 38 as he was hit on the thumb by a throw and was taken off the field for further assessment.
Praveen Jayawickrama finally was able to get the breakthrough for the hosts when he dismissed Markram for 96. However, the visitors continued in the same vein with Rassie van der Dussen and Kyle Verreynne sharing a solid 43-run stand.
Verreynne fell soon after the visitors went past the 200-run mark, trapped by Akila Dananjaya for 12. Van der Dussen refused to budge and patiently stitched a solid half-century.
He fell to Dananjaya with South Africa still needing 41 runs in the last 4.1 overs. Only 14 runs came off in the next three overs. In the end, 27 runs in the final over was too much for the Proteas and they could only manage to score 286/6 in 50 overs; Sri Lanka winning by 14 runs.
Earlier, the hosts won the toss and elected to bat. Avishka Fernando and Minod Bhanuka dealt with the South Africa attack with confidence and laid a solid foundation for the side. A couple of overs later, the introduction of part-time bowler, Markram, worked in South Africa’s favour as he broke the opening stand.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s stay at the crease lasted only three balls as he holed out for a duck, becoming Maharaj’s first victim courtesy of a brilliant catch from Verreynne at deep midwicket. Fernando then joined forces with Dhananjaya de Silva, and steadied the proceedings.
After the 22nd over, with Sri Lanka on 105/2, rain interrupted play for a brief period. Two overs later, their 79-run third-wicket stand came to an end when Klaasen had de Sliva stumped for 44 off Maharaj’s bowling.
Then came in Charith Asalanka, who became Fernando’s third partner to share a half-century stand with. En route to their solid 97-run stand, Fernando reached the triple-digit mark, reaching his third ODI hundred from 106 balls.
His sensational knock ended on 118 when Shamsi had him caught at backward point. Asalanka made sure that the runs were flowing in as he starred with an impressive 62-ball 72.
In the last five overs, Sri Lanka lost five wickets, including two run-outs on the last two balls of the innings.