Sri Lanka v South Africa, 3rd T20, Hambantota August 6, 2013

Dilshan powers Sri Lanka to consolation win

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Sri Lanka 164 for 4 (Dilshan 74*, Wiese 2-24) beat South Africa 163 for 3 (du Plessis 85, Duminy 51*) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sri Lanka's batsmen found fluency for the first time in the Twenty20 series, as the hosts rode a furious start and a fast finish to a consolatory six-wicket win in Hambantota. Tillakaratne Dilshan's unbeaten 51-ball 74 was both their anchor and primary propeller, with Mahela Jayawardene and Thisara Perera contributing with cameos to help haul in a stiff target of 164, with 11 balls to spare.

Jayawardene and Dilshan have repeatedly been Sri Lanka's most dynamic opening combination, and South Africa's large total was sufficient reason to reunite the two batsmen, displacing Kusal Perera to No. 3. Jayawardene's breezy brilliance matched Dilshan's daring in the Powerplay, and when they were separated in the sixth over, Sri Lanka were traveling at more than 11 runs an over. Yet, they stumbled in the middle once more, and before Thisara launched a Wayne Parnell over for 21, their fate had become uncertain.

Dilshan's first scoring shot foreshadowed the opener's blitz, as he walloped a Lonwabo Tsotsobe slower ball over square leg for six in the first over, before playing the Dilscoop to successive balls, to make 14 in the over. Jayawardene's salvo was more stylish, but no less explosive. Morne Morkel was not spared either as fours came of his first three deliveries - all from Jayawardene's unhurried blade. Jayawardene fell to Parnell in the sixth over, but despite his disappointment, Sri Lanka required just under seven an over with nine wickets left, thanks to his 16-ball 33.

Dilshan made do with stuttering partners in the middle overs; Kusal Perera's innings was his briefest in a poor series for him, Dinesh Chandimal fell trying to accelerate after having progressed slowly to 14 and Angelo Mathews was dismissed for 14, after having promised a solid contribution. Although Thisara scored at only a run-a-ball in his first five deliveries, his onslaught in the 18th over secured the match for Sri Lanka. Parnell attempted to bowl full and wide, but Thisara reached out and struck three fours and a six in the arc between extra cover and long-on. At the beginning of that over, Sri Lanka needed 27 off 18, and by the end, only one blow was needed to complete the win. Dilshan provided it in style, sweeping Morkel high over square leg, first ball of the next over.

Though Hambantota's surface has had a reputation for favouring fast bowlers, the spinners from both teams bowled best in the match, with only David Wiese maintaining an acceptable run rate from among the seam bowlers. Tsotsobe conceded 49 from his four, in addition to shelling a simple catch and committing two misfields, and Morkel and Parnell didn't do much better, going for over 10 and 12 an over respectively.

Earlier, a 112-run third-wicket stand between Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy had propelled South Africa to a commanding score, after the pair had exploited poor bowling from Sri Lanka's pacers, who were without their injured spearhead Lasith Malinga. Their partnership, which helped South Africa recover from a first-ball wicket, was the highest against Sri Lanka for any wicket.

Du Plessis' 85 off 65 was his highest score in the T20 series, but he was by some distance the less convincing of the two batsman. Ajantha Mendis had been among his chief tormentors in the ODI series, and should have had him out for 24, had the umpire not mistakenly ruled that the ball hit glove before striking the batsman on the thigh, in front of the stumps. Then on 56, Lahiru Thirimanne failed to grasp a simple chance at deep midwicket - also off Mendis - and du Plessis did not fall until the final over of the innings.

Duminy's progress was both smoother and quicker than his captain's, as he embellished his status as South Africa's best batsman of the tour with his second fifty of the series. Placement and hard running gave energy to his innings, and the big shots were largely reserved for the balls that deserved punishment. An overpitched slower ball from Suranga Lakmal was hoisted over the straight boundary in the 15th over, before Nuwan Kulasekara was launched slightly squarer when he delivered a knee-length full toss.

But their record, and that of the Hambantota stadium - which has allowed only one chasing victory in six previous matches - did not help South Africa, and having avoided a whitewash, Sri Lanka will hold on to their top ranking in T20s.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • DilumSL on August 8, 2013, 4:05 GMT

    It's not Dilshan who made the difference. Of course Dili and Mahela played well. But that happened in first two games as well. Sanga played so well in first two games but the problem was we didn't had the fire power in our middle order. Thisara's hitting was the difference in this game than other two. If we had another player or two who can bat like that. we could have easily won the first 2 games as well. Because we can't always rely on Thisara to come and score 15, 20 runs in a single over. We need some other players who can clear the rope effortlessly.

  • manojdis on August 7, 2013, 15:52 GMT

    From the looks of Tissara Perera's batting for the last few months, I have seen a drastic improvement in his offside play. Earlier, he really struggled to hit the ball from square point to long off, most of the times he sliced the ball to the 3rd man area. Now, he looks to play much straighter and hence has the ability to hit the ball over or along the offside area. So, I think it's high time that he should be given the chance to bat higher in the order, best is opener's position, so that SL can use the maximum from his enormous batting talent. Credit should also be given to Marvan Atapattu in my opinion for this turnaround on Tissara Perera's technique.

  • Cannuck on August 7, 2013, 15:40 GMT

    @SriLankan1 & Chamal Wijesekara: You guys are spot on! It's refreshing to read intelligent comments with common sense. You guys hit the nail on the head, unlike the 1948 guy who keep spewing his same old seniors got to go venom. These guys have personal agendas, hate the success of the top players, & use these forums to bring them down. They have no appreciation for their talent. They keep bringing in "SL domestic" stats as if it's the most competitive league in the world. County, yes! Sheffield, yes! Ranji trophy, yes! SL domestic, please no! As one of you mentioned the SL school cricket has more talent, but in the transition to domestic, they get lost, not to mention politics in the SLC. Still no one in the current young crop come even close to the top 3 plus previous star players. This will continue to be so, as long as politics, coaching methods in school cricket gets messed up. It has! It seems they teach T20 cricket from U12, instead of proper techniques! It's sad but true!

  • dummy4fb on August 7, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    can any one give me the ans of few questions plz. 1: when JP Duminy was best spinner of Africa in the last two matches , why has not he bowled a single ball in the whole match? 2; if you see the 2nd match between Africa and Lanka,WD Parnelll bowled in the death overs and all the balls were either yorkers or on the legs straight and impossible for the batsmen to play, but in this match he bowled all the bowls out of wicket and away from the off stumps. why were the overs of WD Parnell and M Morkell left in spite that TM Dilshan was on the wicket. why was the fielding so poor that the best fielder of the world was miss Fielding. 163 was the par score for the out of form lankan side but they made it with ease. believe me i always doubt African side in these situations whether they are playing against india or any other side. they are the best actors of the world. feeling sorry for the Africans fans. javed ijk karachi

  • quittthewhinging on August 7, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    SA's bowling was rubbish. Why do they continually bowl short when they are getting hammered all over the park. Do they never learn? And why doesn't du Plessis have a word with them? As a captain he's worse than AB. Quinten de Kock impressed in SA but is all at sea against good spin - lots to learn yet.

  • dummy4fb on August 7, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal (On present form) and Kusal Janith Perera will not make it into any of the T20 squads in any of the other country than SL- not even the so called minnows will they be able to cement a place for themselves. Whilst its obvious to most, nothing seems to be done about it. True Sri Lanka must look to the future and blood new talent but when it becomes obvous that there is no promise in the chosen crop- selectors must be brave enough to invest in further fresh faces even though its a new learning curve again

  • Sharath274 on August 7, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Was Duminy injured? Didnt get a bowl in the last 2 matches.. even when Tahir was bowling so well, it shud have meant that Duminy also wud been equally effective.. bad captaincy by Faf..way to go ...

  • ADARSH100 on August 7, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    Again SL won coz of a senior gun. Gud batting performance by Dilshan and Mahela. Perera played well. Kushal and Chandi... NO WAY. Chandi is not a gud captain too.. its funny wt he said during post match presentation saying he ws extremely happy by the way they bowled to restrict SA to 160... is Chandi a Kid to say that?? Huh.. PLEASEEEE... remove Chandi from T20 squad immediately. Yestrday also, he wasted 18 balls to get 14 runs. Pleaseeee.... SL cricket is in danger.

    call him back whn SL play against Zimbabwe. please rest all the senior players against Zimbabwe. Mahela,tharanga,sanga,Dilshan,malinga,mathews must be rested evn in tests. Play with fresh team against Zimbabwe.

  • dummy4fb on August 7, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    real use of powerplay overs by S lankan openers .

  • android_user on August 7, 2013, 8:37 GMT

    For ages we have depended on the school cricketing structure to produce our international player base, while the first class structure has remained a mere mode of transition. But little have we realised that the school structure had inherent limitations and had reached the saturation point by the late 80's. So when ever a youngster come in to the international team he takes time to adjust, Sanath J made his dubute in 91 it took him nearly 5 years to find a permanent spot, Dilshan debued in 99/00 but it took him nearly 10 years to find a permanent slot in the team, and I don't want to start on guys who had so much, but who never really kick started. This wasn't bcos the team was laden with talent but bcos the SL young cricketers take time ti adjust to the Int standards. This is true for the current crop as well. And this will hold true until we overhaul the 1st class structure. Till such time the present state if affairs will be the order of the day.