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An outstanding all round performance from South Africa saw them claim a 5 wicket victory in East London to go 2-0 up in the Sunfoil ODI series. After having put Sri Lanka in to bat, the Proteas bowlers restricted the Lankans to a competitive 236-6 in 50 overs. Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel picked up two wickets each, and most of the Proteas bowlers produced very economical spells. An 84 run worth partnership between Upul Tharanga (66) and Dinesh Chandimal enabled Sri Lanka, who were in early strife at 21-2 to post a respectable total. Chandimal's gritty, undefeated 92 formed the cornerstone of the Lankan innings. Chasing 237, The the openers Hashim Amla(55) and Graeme Smith(28) bestowed the innings with a breezy 76 run opening stand. The key to South Africa's success was their ability to construct partnerships. Jacques Kallis (37) and JP Duminy (66*) eliminated the fear of a middle order meltdown. Eventually, the calm and composed Duminy steered the hosts past the finish line with 8 balls to spare. Dhammika Prasad was the most successful bowler for the Lankans with figures of 3-46.
Overcast weather conditions welcomed South Africa and Sri Lanka, who locked horns in the 2nd ODI of the Sunfoil series, on a good batting track at Buffalo Park in East London. A mild drizzle delayed delayed the start of play by half an hour.
The South African captain, AB de Villiers won the toss and chose to field first with the motive of exploiting the early freshness in the pitch. The hosts were unchanged from their magnificent campaign at Paarl while injury concerns exhorted the Lankan lions to make a couple of changes. Ajantha Mendis, who had a recurrence of a back niggle has been ruled out of the remainder of the series.The slow left arm spinner, Rangana Herath took over the baton from Mendis. Also back into the Lankan playing XI was Dhammika Prasad replacing Dilhara Fernando, who was down with a knee injury. After crashing to their most embarrassing defeat in the opening ODI, Dilshan & co were looking for a massive reversal of fortune to turn the tables around on the rampant Proteas.
Sri Lanka got off to yet another wretched start. Dale Steyn, back to his favoured opening bowling position began the proceedings for the Proteas with an amazing maiden over. The Lankan leader, Tillakaratene Dilshan(0) was run out in the next over with no runs on the board. Dilshan's hesitant running cost the tourists dearly as South Africa's best fielder, Faf du Plessis stationed at point effected a direct hit to send Dilshan back to the hutch. Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe derived good seam movement and operated with excruciating precision to keep the Lankans under the cosh.The left handed pair of Kumar Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga moved at a snail's pace.
Morne Morkel also hit a good rhythm and probed relentlessly at the batsmen's techniques outside the off-stump. The final ball of the powerplay saw a tentative Sangakkara (3) nick a Tsotsobe delivery to AB de Villiers. Four maidens in the mandatory powerplay stood testimony to the discipline of the Proteas pacers. To compound Lanka's woes, the South African fielding was spot-on. The support cast of JP Duminyand Albie Morkel came in right after the fielding restrictions were off. Sensing an opportunity, Upul Tharanga advanced down the track, got close to the flight of the ball and deposited Duminyinto the stands on the last ball of his first over. However Sri Lanka were in deep trouble at 37-2 in 15 overs.
The Proteas took the bowling powerplay straight away and De Villiers brought back his premier bowler, Steyn after the Duminyexperiment. Tharanga also took a few calculated risks against Robin Petersen in a bid to get the stagnant Sri Lankan innings going. The youngster Dinesh Chandimal at the other end was quick between the wickets and kept the run-rate ticking. Thankfully for the touring party, a useful partnership began developing. The southpaw got to his half century with a nudge down to fine leg in the 24th over.
The Lankans were hoping for Tharanga to shoulder the responsibility and carry on to make a big one. Meanwhile, Chandimal, touted as next big thing in the ODI format oozed confidence with his smart cricket. However, their hopes were dashed as Tharanga fell caught behind for 63 to the returning Morne Morkel in the 29th over. The pro-active de Villiers stacked up as many as 7 men in the circle and attacked the new man, Mahela Jayawardene. The Lankans had scored 106-3 in 30 overs.
Robin Petersen turned the ball appreciably and tightened the screws firmly thereby vindicating his selection ahead of the senior spinner, Johan Botha. Duminy took advantage of the situation and rung in a few quiet overs. The visitors meanwhile took the batting powerplay with the goal of enhancing the tempo. But, Jayawardene's poor run of form showed no signs of abating. Dale Steyn, at short fine leg pulled off a stunning catch to dismiss the 34 year old for 19. Nuwan Kulasekara, playing his 100th ODI was promoted up the order with the license of going after the bowlers. He swung his bat to good effect and manufactured 2 fours and a biggie in the 39th over. Kulasekara got too greedy and his attempted big booming lofted shot was grasped by Robin Petersen. It was a fantastic running catch, which probably surpassed Steyn's effort. At the other end Chandimal continued to keep one end up and brought up his half-century with a nudge to square-leg.
At 177-5 in 42 overs, Sri Lanka eyed a total in excess of 240 to challenge the World Number 3 outfit. A change of bat worked wonders for Mathews, who skipped out of the crease to slam Petersen over cover for a six in the 43rd over. The dangerous Chandimal, circumspect early on gave vent to his natural instincts to find the fence 3 balls later. Then, the busy customer hit consecutive fours off Tsotsobe in the 47th over. Bowling at the back end of the innings has been a worry for the hosts in recent times. The talented duo made 20 runs in the last 3 overs to take the guests to a healthy 236-6 considering their ultra slow start. Chandimal remained unbeaten on 92* while Mathews perished on the final ball of the innings to hand Steyn his only wicket.
In pursuit of 237, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla braved Malinga's short early burst to provide the hosts an ideal launchpad. Hashim Amla got into his element by virtue of a spanking inside-out six over the extra cover region off Kulasekara in the 4th over. After having missed out at Paarl, Smith was determined to make this innings count. The organized Smith left the wide balls outside the off-stump and dispatched the poor ones to the ropes. The World's premier ODI batsman, Amla, was his usual free flowing self. The right hander timed the ball in sublime fashion to push the Lankans onto the backfoot. The 50 of the opening stand came up in just 61 balls. Dilshan kept shuffling his bowlers around but to no avail. The 10 overs from Rangana Herath were going to be vital if the Lankan lions were to find their way back into the series.
Herath, who spun the tourists to a famous win in the Durban Test came into the fray in the 14th over. Sri Lanka's best chance was to make early inroads into the South African batting unit. However, that did not happen as Proteas merrily progressed to 75-0 in 15 overs.
Sri Lanka's main man, Lasith Malinga was drafted back into the attack with the arrival of the bowling powerplay. Herath was taken off after a solitary over and Prasad was back at the other end. The strategy reaped immediate reward as Graeme Smith (28) top-edged a short delivery to gift Tharanga a simple catch in the 2nd over of the bowling powerplay. Jacques Kallis opened his account with a superbly controlled pull shot. Shortly after, Amla waltzed to his fifty with a dab to third man. Once the bowling powerplay concluded Prasad struck again to clean bowl Amla for a near run-a-ball 55. Herath troubled the Proteas in his second spell and threatened to take the game away from AB de Villiers' men. Nevertheless, Kallis and Duminy went about their business steadily sans any risks to maintain the asking rate under 5.5. South Africa were on top having scored 130 runs in 30 overs with still 8 wickets in the shed.
The well-set Kallis and Duminy opted for the batting powerplay in the 33rd over. Kallis took toll of a friendly full toss off Malinga and drilled it down the ground to pick up the first boundary since Amla's departure. Prasad then broke the 58 run stand by removing the enormously experienced batsman for 37. Despite the loss of Kallis, the Proteas made 30 runs in the batting powerplay.
AB de Villiers wasted little time to get into his stride. De Villiers' reverse-sweep off Dilshan in the 39th over underlined his sky-high confidence. JP Duminy's humongous six in the following over eased a bit of nerves in the Proteas camp. Duminy brought up his half-century in 63 balls. The target was down to 48 runs from 60 balls with 7 wickets in hand.
A bit of magic in the field allowed the Lankan lions to roar back into the contest. Nuwan Kulasekara's bullet throw from short third man caught de Villiers (17) short of the crease. Du Plessis and Duminy dealt in singles and batted sensibly. The required rate was reduced to under 4. Du Plessis(18) though was unable to see his side home as he failed to spot a slower ball from 'Slinga' and patted it right back to the bowler. Albie Morkel (12*) and JP Dumminy(66*) lived through a few anxious moments to guide South Africa to a 5 wicket win with 8 balls to spare.
After an abject surrender at Paarl, Sri Lanka showed fighting spirit to test the South Africans. They have to raise the bar further to keep themselves afloat in the 5 match ODI series. AB de Villiers' cavaliers in contrast will be all pumped up to seal the series at Bloemfentein which will host the 3rd ODI this coming Tuesday.
South Africa: G Smith, H Amla, J Kallis, AB de Villiers(captain&keeper), JP Dumminy, F du Plessis, A Morkel, R Petersen, D Steyn, M Morkel, L Tsotsobe.
Sri Lanka: T Dilshan(captain), U Tharanga, K Sangakkara(keeper), M Jayawardene, D Chandimal, A Mathews, K Kulasekara, N Kulasekara, T Perera, L Malinga, R Herath.
Sri Lanka: 236-6 (50 overs, 4.72 rpo)
D Chandimal 92*(115) M Morkel 2-39
U Tharanga 66(85) L Tsotsobe 2-43
South Africa: 237-5 (48.4 overs, 4.86rpo)
JP Duminy 66*(87) D Prasad 3-46
H Amla 55(58) L Malinga 1-38
South Africa won by 5 wickets.
File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20
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