South Africa secured a series win against Sri Lanka with a victory in a rain-delayed match at Kingsmead. The Proteas won by 71 runs with Quinton de Kock starring with the bat.
The left-handed De Kock had made scores between 80 and 94 in his five previous matches for South Africa and his reaction on reaching his 14th one-day international century, off 89 balls, revealed more relief than ecstasy at Kingsmead. As in the first two one-day internationals, De Kock made batting look easy as he hit 16 fours and two sixes before being dismissed in the 31st over. David Miller and Andile Phehlukwayo hit a flurry of boundaries in the final few overs to lead South Africa to 331-5. Judging from his recent performances, if given a year or two, Phehlukwayo could easily prove to be a very solid all-rounder.
Protea fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi both took early wickets before a promising stand between Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis was interrupted by the rain. Sri Lanka were 75 for two after 16 overs at the rain break. When play resumed Sri Lanka were set a revised DLS target of 193 of 24 overs, requiring them to score 118 off the remaining 48 balls, a near impossible task especially with the absence of their star-player Kusal Perara out of action with a leg injury. Mendis hit two sixes in an over off the left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi but soon perished trying another big hit against leg-spinner Imran Tahir which initiated the crumbling of Sri Lankan wickets.
In-form Proteas captain Faf Du Plessis commended his team’s work ethic on the day and believes even without the rain interruption they would have given Sri Lanka a hard time. “Rain-affected games are not nice but the way we bowled up front, getting wickets, it was going to be tough for them in a full game,” said Du Plessis. Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga said poor bowling and fielding had enabled South Africa to score 40 or 50 more runs than they should have.
Now with the ODI series already wrapped up, the Proteas will have their sight on a clean sweep against Sri Lanka. On Monday the squad for the remaining two ODIs was announced, with the inclusion of Aiden Markham, JP Duminy and Hashim Amla. Amla is under tremendous pressure to perform as his recent form doesn’t inspire confidence. Wiaan Mulder and Reeza Hendrciks have been left out of the Proteas line-up after playing in the first three fixtures. The fourth match takes place at St, George’s Park on Wednesday 13:00pm.