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The Report by Abhishek Purohit
January 14, 2012
South Africa 237 for 5 (Duminy 66*, Amla 55, Prasad 3-46) beat Sri Lanka 236 for 6 (Chandimal 92*, Tharanga 66, M Morkel 2-39, Tsotsobe 2-43) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Sri Lanka's batting turned up on a slow East London pitch after the no-show in Paarl but a scratchy performance was not enough to push South Africa, though the hosts managed to give themselves some nervy moments during the chase. Sri Lanka's three big batsmen failed once again and it was only due to the rapidly maturing Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga that they avoided another poor score.
Hashim Amla's wizardry then threatened to shut out the visitors before South Africa lost crucial wickets at the wrong times to make sure the rest of their chase wouldn't be as breezy as Amla's innings was. JP Duminy, though, kept his cool to guide his side home in the penultimate over.
AB de Villiers had earlier been lured into putting Sri Lanka in by overcast skies, but the visitors were able to survive and slowly build their innings, partly due to the lack of bite in the pitch and partly due to Chandimal and Tharanga. That South Africa got as much as 237 to chase was down largely to Chandimal. He batted till the end of Sri Lanka's innings, displaying grit - a quality that has been largely absent among Sri Lanka's batsmen recently.
Chandimal outside-edged heaves over point, he even lap-swept a ball off his helmet a four. Timing eluded him for most of his innings, but fortune did not. He repeatedly tried to smash the spinners out of the ground only for the ball to roll towards midwicket. He could have been run out several times as he went for tight singles. He had earlier been hit on the arm and the side of the helmet by Albie Morkel as he played a pull too early. But he just smiled and rode out the tough period. He hit his first four off the 16th delivery he faced, the next one came off the 85th as he carried Sri Lanka from 164 for 5 in the 40th over to 236 for 6 in the company of Angelo Mathews.
The visitors had initially found themselves in familiar territory at 21 for 2 after 10 overs despite the Buffalo Park pitch affording neither the pace nor the bounce that Paarl had. Tillakaratne Dilshan still managed to get dismissed off the fourth ball he faced for his second duck in as many games, a slight hesitation while attempting a tight single against the arm of Faf du Plessis finding him short of the crease. He now averages 15.50 with the bat in 18 ODIs since taking over the Sri Lanka captaincy.
With edges dying on the wicketkeeper and batsmen being beaten after playing their shots too early, it was no surprise that Lonwabo Tsotsobe's assortment of slower deliveries and cutters proved difficult to score off. After having played the patience game in making 3 off 27 deliveries, Kumar Sangakkara fiddled with a Tsotsobe delivery outside off stump and feathered a dying edge to the wicketkeeper.
Tharanga and Chandimal were tested more by the slowness of the pitch than by South Africa's bowlers. But to their credit, they were prepared to wait and nudge the ball around. Tharanga, the only Sri Lanka batsman to find some measure of timing on the pitch, glided deliveries for boundaries through point, and when the spinners found some help from the pitch he stepped out to loft them down the ground. An attempt to glide Morne Morkel towards third man resulted in a faint edge to the keeper after he had motored to 66.
South Africa's excellence in the field earned them the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and the promoted Nuwan Kulasekara, both after breezy cameos. Chandimal ultimately carried them to a score that was seven runs short of the average total by a side batting first at Buffalo Park.
Sri Lanka needed Lasith Malinga to strike early if they were to make the target of 237 seem bigger than it was, but Amla and Graeme Smith were careful to play out his opening burst with caution. With Malinga out of the way for the moment, Amla began to toy with the rest of the attack, untroubled by the slowness of the track. He smashed Nuwan Kulasekara for six over extra cover, walked across to flick him for four through midwicket and flicked him over square leg for six.
Dilshan soon did what he so often does when there are no answers to be found: he brought himself on. Amla guided and nudged him for consecutive fours to race towards his half-century. Dhammika Prasad gave Sri Lanka much-needed relief as Amla finally failed to connect and was bowled for 55.
Rangana Herath, who had been held back, came on and troubled Kallis immediately with sharp turn as well as with arm balls. A slow partnership between Kallis and Duminy followed, which served to push the asking-rate up. With 85 needed from 15 overs, Kallis sliced Prasad straight to sweeper cover in an attempt to speed up the scoring.
de Villiers came in charged up and soon ran himself out, attempting a non-existent single to short third man. But Amla's start had afforded South Africa the space to wobble a bit. Duminy did what was required, working the singles and pushing for the twos. He hit only one boundary off 87 deliveries but still scored at a strike-rate of over 75. It wasn't fancy stuff, it wasn't the artistry of Amla, but South Africa would be grateful to Duminy for doing the dirty work that steered home what should have been a far smoother chase.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Abhishek Purohit
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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