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August 31, 2004
Sri Lanka 308 for 8 (Jayasuriya 79, Jayantha 51, Sangakkara 72) beat South Africa 259 (Kallis 101, Chandana 5-61) by 49 runs, and win series 5-0
Despite a brave fighting century from Jacques Kallis, South Africa suffered the double humiliation of a series whitewash and a record-equalling tenth successive defeat as Sri Lanka - courtesy of some high-octane batting in the morning, fine spin bowling from Upul Chandana, and another cool-headed display in the field - clinched a 49-run victory at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.
South Africa's day could not have started better, as Shaun Pollock punched the air in celebration and saluted the dressing-room after dismissing Avishka Gunawardene third ball. But thereafter it was all Sri Lanka. With a flurry of fine strokes, mixed with the odd dollop of good fortune, Sanath Jayasuriya and Saman Jayantha raced out of the blocks early, before Kumar Sangakkara powered Sri Lanka home to a massive 308 for 8 - their highest one-day score against South Africa.
Sri Lanka, as they did throughout this series, made good use of the new ball. Nuwan Zoysa finished a forgettable tour for Herschelle Gibbs in his second over. Gibbs had hinted at some form with a spanking back-foot drive the previous over, but Zoysa's full-length delivery found the inside edge and ricocheted into the stumps (11 for 1).
Zoysa and Farveez Maharoof continued to bowl accurately to a tight ring of fielders, and the pressure started to mount. Graeme Smith and Kallis, back at No. 3, struggled to score freely. They were forced to improvise, with Kallis tiptoeing down the pitch to Maharoof for one regal extra-cover drive and later for a glorious straight six, and Smith heaving twice over midwicket.
The runs started to flow more easily, with 48 being added from 59 balls, when Smith made a gross error of judgment, taking on Chandana's arm from the square-leg fence. The throw was flat and fast, and Sangakkara nonchalantly whipped off the bails with Smith still two yards short (59 for 2).
After Zoysa's fine opening spell (8-0-25-1), Sri Lanka turned to their quintet of spinners and, almost immediately, it was clear how difficult it would be for South Africa to keep up with the clock. But Kallis and Jacques Rudolph did not self-destruct. Slowly but surely, relying heavily on the sweep, they started to milk the spinners, aware that they could not afford to be separated until they were within striking distance of the target.
The required rate edged upwards, past eight an over, but South Africa nearly kept pace, and it was the Sri Lankans who grew frustrated. Tillakaratne Dilshan was upset when an appeal for a catch behind off Kallis, on 44, was turned down and later Sangakkara fluffed a tight chance of a run-out when Rudolph had 44. As the partnership stretched past 100, South Africa's dressing-room started to sniff an improbable victory, although they neared the final 15 overs needing nine an over.
But Chandana snuffed out those hopes with a career-best haul of 5 for 61. First, Rudolph drove straight into the lap of Dilshan at midwicket. Then Mark Boucher, who smashed two fours and one massive six in his 24, was coolly stumped by Sangakkara. The final nail in the coffin was the departure of Kallis, with 88 still needed from 47 balls. Kallis had only just reached his 13th one-day hundred when he bent on one knee and tried to blast Chandana out of the ground. But the ball sailed straight upwards and Sangakkara pouched the simplest of catches (221 for 5). The game was all but over.
In the morning, after the first-over fall of Gunawardene, Jayasuriya and Jayantha batted cautiously. After five overs, the score was 13 for 1. But as it became clear that the sun-baked flat pitch was not offering any of the expected lateral movement, the second-wicket pair started to stir with Jayasuriya thrashing Makhaya Ntini for two fours. During the next ten overs 79 runs were plundered, and the momentum swung decisively Sri Lanka's way. Jayasuriya flicked through the leg side and cut savagely. Jayantha was also strong square of the wicket, though occasionally streakily, with one edge flying to the right of Kallis at slip.
With Ntini and Charl Langeveldt being treated harshly, Smith turned to his own part-time offbreaks and Nicky Boje's left-arm spin to stem the run flow. Although guilty of bowling six wides, Smith operated quite tidily and with Boje also economical, the run rate was dragged back to more reasonable proportions.
However, his next change produced more tangible results as Lance Klusener produced a perfect outswinger in the first ball that shaved the outside of Jayantha's defensive bat. The breakthrough ended a 125-run stand that had come from just 132 balls and Jayantha, just moments after bringing up his second fifty in international cricket, trudged back having made 51 (125 for 2).
But the wicket brought little respite, as Sangakkara helped maintain the brisk tempo with Jayasuriya, and they added 39 in 38 balls. Smith rotated his bowlers frequently, desperately trying to conjure up another breakthrough, and his active captaincy eventually did the trick as Jayasuriya, trying to work an innocuous-looking offbreak from Smith to leg, popped up the simplest of catches to Gibbs at short cover off a leading edge (164 for 3).
Mahela Jayawardene, leading the side in the absence of Marvan Atapattu - who was at the bedside of his sick young daughter, Sanjali, who is suffering from dengue fever - rejoined his big buddy Sangakkara to carry on where they left off in Dambulla. The run rate sagged for a few overs, as they ensured that the good start was not wasted, but gradually they grew more dominant and Sri Lanka reached the 40-over mark with 226 for 3, well placed for the final assault.
They pushed down on the accelerator in the final straight. Sangakkara was handed the responsibility of batting through the innings, and Jayawardene the task of cutting loose. The extra inventiveness thrilled the crowd briefly, as Jayawardene unveiled a reverse pull-sweep that flew to the boundary, but then cost him his wicket, as he was trapped lbw dancing across and trying to flick a straight one to fine leg (248 for 4). Sangakkara then unleashed his most brutal shot of the innings, a leg-side swat off Pollock that soared over the midwicket fence, before being caught in the deep. Dilshan and Chandana came and went, chipping in with a few meaty boundaries, as Sri Lanka steamed past the magical 300 mark.
South Africa, at least, mounted a damage-limitation job in the final couple of overs as Langeveldt snapped up 3 for 31, but by then too much damage had already been done.
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