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Vaas stars in Sri Lankan triumph

Sri Lanka 470 and 211 for 4 dec beat South Africa 189 and 179 (Dippenaar 59*, Boucher 51, Vaas 6-29) by 313 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A superb display of swing bowling by Chaminda Vaas sent South Africa hurtling to a 313-run defeat at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo, giving Sri Lanka a 1-0 series victory, their first over South Africa. Vaas gave Sri Lanka the early momentum on the fifth morning, taking two wickets, and then returned to finish off the South African innings for 179. He ended up with the exceptional figures of 6 for 29.

The weather forecast for the day had been bleak, but Sri Lanka's prayers were answered when dawn arrived bright and dry. Their morning got better, too, as South Africa started disastrously with three wickets tumbling for 14 runs in the first half-hour. Boeta Dippenaar (59 not out) and Mark Boucher (51) provided the main resistance, adding 101 for the sixth wicket. But another slide followed, and five wickets tumbled for 42 after lunch, as South Africa were bundled out for their lowest total against Sri Lanka.

After an astonishing effort by the groundstaff to mop up in time after the heavy deluge the previous evening, Vaas needed just three balls to grab the prized wicket of Jacques Kallis, the one batsman that Sri Lanka feared could bat through the day. Kallis was unfortunate, as Vaas produced a wicked delivery that spat up from a good length to find the outside edge. Tillakaratne Dilshan was presented with the simplest of catches at second slip (24 for 3).

Graeme Smith, meanwhile, was setting out his stall for a long rearguard. But in the fourth over of the day, he gloved an attempted pull off Lasith Malinga. The ball ballooned up off his thigh-pad and was caught at backward short leg. Five balls later, South Africa were left in complete disarray when Jacques Rudolph succumbed lamely for the second time in the match, top-edging a pull that sailed straight to Malinga on the long-leg fence (36 for 5).

While the excited schoolchildren in the stands chanted "Go Lanka Go" in celebration, Dippenaar and Boucher quietly and efficiently dug in. They survived Vaas and Malinga's early four-over bursts, and looked secure against the slow bowlers. The odd ball turned sharply and popped up, but there were no great alarms. The closest they came to being dismissed was when Malinga was drafted back into the attack for a short burst before lunch. Finding some reverse-swing, he came perilously close to trapping Dippenaar lbw when he had made 25.

After lunch, Marvan Atapattu turned back to Vaas. Once again, he rose to the occasion and grabbed a much-needed breakthrough with a skilful legcutter that drew Boucher forward and nipped away enough to brush the edge. Romesh Kaluwitharana, whose glovework had been untidy throughout the match, very nearly let the ball pop out from his bright-yellow mitts (137 for 6).

Having broken through, Sri Lanka pushed home their advantage. Next over, Shaun Pollock mistimed a clip off Dilshan's part-time offspin and picked out Atapattu at short midwicket. Dilshan burst into an Olympian lap of celebration. But Vaas was the main hero and he soon worked through Nicky Boje's defences with an indipper that pinned him in front. Two balls later, Makhaya Ntini departed for a duck after an airy waft (163 for 9). Malinga wrapped up proceedings with the wicket of Nantie Hayward, who knocked back the simplest of return catches.

Sri Lanka's series win reconfirmed their new-found confidence under Atapattu's leadership, and lifts them to fifth position in the ICC Test rankings, behind Australia, England, Pakistan and India. South Africa, meanwhile, slide three places to sixth slot, their lowest ranking. Their ODI ranking will also be under threat when they start a five-match series on August 20. First, though, they have a few days to regroup.