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Plays of the day from the third ODI between Sri Lanka and South Africa
Andrew Fidel Fernando in Pallakele
July 26, 2013
Sri Lanka's innings had progressed at a crawl from the outset, until Thisara Perera got hold of Robin Peterson and sent his figures flying into the night in a 35-run mauling. Perera began by slogging Peterson over cow corner, his bottom hand coming off in the exertion. The second legitimate ball was bludgeoned slightly squarer, but just as far, before Perera went over cow corner again for the next two deliveries, getting the second of those blows into the midst of a jubilant crowd. Peterson tried to dart the next one in, but Perera hit it straight and hard for a one-bounce boundary, before finishing the over with the biggest blow of all, over deep square leg. With a frazzled Peterson having bowled a wide somewhere in the middle, the over was the second-most expensive in ODIs, after Herschelle Gibbs' six sixes against Netherlands.
Perera had sent serious scares into the South Africa camp by lifting the score above 150 by the 38th over but the visitors may all have breathed a sigh of relief when they saw him miscue a pull off Morne Morkel, the ball lobbing gently towards Lonwabo Tsotsobe at short fine leg. Tsotsobe had little more to do than reach forward and grasp the ball but, stunningly, allowed it to slip through his fingers, keeping the match alive and the crowd exultant, for a few more overs at least.
The close call
With the other two seniors dismissed, Mahela Jayawardene's early demise would have swung the match firmly in South Africa's direction and, were it not for one of cricket's most puzzling quirks, the visitors might have had their man for 21. Jayawardene dragged his back foot forward to defend Peterson's last ball of the 21st over but missed, and Quinton de Kock whipped off the bails triumphantly. When the decision went to the third umpire, Jayawardene seemed to have nothing behind the line on some replays, and was perhaps just home in others. If the convention was to rule in favour of the outcome that had more evidence supporting it, Jayawardene should have been out. But because replays left room for a little doubt, the benefit of which the batsman receives, he was allowed to continue.
Having helped his side recover from early losses for much of his innings, David Miller only showcased his hitting in the final two overs of South Africa's innings, but it was not one of his four sixes that was his best stroke. He strode out of his crease before Lasith Malinga delivered the first ball of the last over, and seeing the batsman's approach, Malinga dug the ball in short. Miller had almost been expecting this strategy, and was on to the hook in an instant. Getting well on top of the bounce, he struck the ball hard and flat, and although a man had been placed in the deep for just that stroke, he had little hope of preventing four.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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