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Rain helps South Africa wrap up Sun foil series 3-0 with 4 run win at Bloemfontein

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ab_de_villiersRain played spoilsport at Bloemfontein to deny the resurgent Sri Lankans a golden opportunity to rumble back into the Sunfoil ODI series. In pursuit of 267, the South Africans were in early strife at 52/3. However, a counter-attacking 61 run partnership between Faf du Plessis (72) and JP Duminy(25) got South Africa back on track. Du Plessis combined deft touches with brute power to lead South Africa's revival. AB de Villiers (39*) took charge of the tricky chase after the departure of the dynamic duo. The game was evenly balanced with the home team at 179-5 in 34 overs, still needing 88 runs off 96 balls before rain intervened to hand South Africa a 4 run victory by the Duckworth Lewis rule and with it an unassailable 3-0 lead in the 5 match ODI series. Earlier in the day Sri Lanka batted first to set up a competitive total of 266-9. While Upul Thranga laid the base with an attractive 58, Nuwan Kulasekara's useful cameo of 40 pushed the Lankan lions past the psychological 250 run mark.

Already 2-0 up in this 5-match ODI series, South Africa welcomed Sri Lanka for the third ODI at Bloemfontein with the aim of wrapping up the contest. It was the tourists though who won the toss and decided to bat first on what looked like an absolute belter of a pitch. For the hosts, father-to-be Hashim Amla was on paternal leave while Jacques Kallis was given a well-deserved break. The senior pros were replaced by Alviro Petersen and Colin Ingram, the third highest run-scorer in the domestic one-day competition, while the Lankan lions retained the same eleven from their last outing in East London. The islanders were hoping that the do-or-die situation would bring the best out of them.

The mandatory powerplay swung in Sri Lanka's favour for a rare occasion this series as the Proteas pacers failed to make early incisions. Upul Tharanga and the under-fire skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan took liking to the flat deck and got the guests off to a brisk start. Tharanga was quick to latch on to any width offered by the bowlers and seemed to be in fluent touch. On the other hand, the scratchy Dilshan shelved his flamboyant strokes and tried to play himself in for the long haul. Tharanga, who lived dangerously, used his feet to good effect and smashed two 2 biggies off JP Duminy in his 1st over. Sri Lanka were in an advantageous position at 69-0 in 15 overs.

The left handed Tharanga notched up his second consecutive fifty of the series in the following over, reaching the landmark in just 53 deliveries. Meanwhile, at the other end, Dilshan got into the groove with two fours off Morkel in the 18th over, the second one being his trademark Dil-scoop.

The hosts were in desperate need of a breakthrough to derail the Lankans. That happened when the aggressive Tharanga (58) top-edged Robin Petersen to short fine leg. Moments later, Dilshan (33) was re-united with his opening partner, a casual top-edged sweep backfiring again. However, Kumar Sangakkara did not let the double blow undermine their advantageous position and orchestrated 3 lovely boundaries in the 22nd over. The ex-captain and Dinesh Chandimal adopted a sensible method to keep the scoreboard moving. Their free-flowing 52 run stand folded up when a top-class throw from Faf du Plessis coupled with indecision from the batsmen found Sangakkara (38) short of his crease. Sri Lanka had constructed 155 runs for the loss of the top 3 in 30 overs.

The impressive Chandimal and the new batsman, Mahela Jayawardene milked the South African bowling before another 'bullet direct-hit' had the big fish run out for 15. Nuwan Kulasekara was bumped up the order once again to make the batting powerplay count. But, Morne Morkel and Steyn did not allow the visitors to free their arms. The mounting pressure got the better of Chandimal (36) as he succumbed to a pacy short ball and was caught by Graeme Smith at mid-off in the 39th over. Soon after vice-captain Angelo Mathews also holed out in the deep for 15. The onus was now on the Kulasekaras, Nuwan, who was dropped by AB de Villiers in the 38th over, and Kosala to infuse some impetus into the sinking Lankan innings.

Nuwan broke the shackles with a six over deep midwicket in the 48th over. He followed it up with a powerful boundary on the last ball of the next over. Shortly after, Morne Morkel cleaned up Nuwan Kulasekara for 40 via a perfect yorker. The lower order implosion showed no signs of abating as Lasith Malinga (2) and Kosala Kulasekara (19) perished in the final over. Sri Lanka finished their innings at 266-9.

The new ball pair of Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara settled into a nice rhythm to keep the South African openers quiet. 'Slinga', who kicked off the proceedings for the islanders with a maiden, bowled Graeme Smith through the gate for a slow 2. Rookie Colin Ingram (13) began in a positive fashion and hit 2 boundaries on the trot off Nuwan Kulasekara in the 6th over. Sadly for the hosts, Malinga produced a slow dipping full-toss to rattle Ingram's timber in the very next over. Soon after, Tillakaratne Dilshan struck with his first ball to dismiss Petersen lbw for 17. South Africa were in a difficult predicament at 64-3 in 15 overs. In the absence of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis, the South African batting certainly had an air of vulnerability about it.

Faf du Plessis and game 2 match winner, JP Duminy began the rebuilding operation with determination. The duo exhibited urgency between the wickets and took full toll of the loosners. Sri Lanka's lethargic fielding did the South African cause a world of good. The young guns scored at a rapid pace to maintain the asking rate under 6. The bowling powerplay solely belonged to the home team where they made 33 runs without losing any wickets. Du Plessis got to a superbly compiled fifty with a push towards extra-cover in the 22nd over. But, the 61 run stand was jolted when a dubious run out decision from the TV umpire forced Duminy to return back to the dressing room for 25. The attacking Du Plessis (72) was struggling from a hamstring strain and in the absence of a runner also failed to make his ground. South Africa were staring down the barrel at 151-5 in 30 overs. Sri Lanka, who had picked themselves up admirably in the field were well on their way back into the series.

AB de Villiers looted 3 fours off the military medium pace of Kosala Kulasekara in the following over to bring South Africa right back into the contest. The need of the hour for South Africa was to play smart cricket and not to press the panic button. Rangana Herath got into a asphyxiating rhythm to make things tough for the Proteas. To the disappointment of the fans, rain bucketed down to interrupt play. At that stage the hosts were ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis par score by 4 runs.

A water logged field due to incessant rain persuaded the umpires to call off the match. Thus, South Africa, who were placed at 179-5 in 34 overs, won the game by Duckworth Lewis manipulations to seal the Sunfoil ODI series.

With the series out of their hands, all the hapless Lankans can look forward to is to salvage a bit of dignity when they resume battle with the Proteas in the 4th ODI at Kimberly on Friday.


South Africa: G Smith, A Petersen, C Ingram, AB de Villiers(captain&keeper), JP Duminy, F du Plessis, A Morkel, R Petersen, D Steyn, M Morkel, L Tsotsobe.

Sri Lanka: T Dilshan(captain), U Tharanga, K Sangakkara(keeper), D Chandimal, M Jayawardene, A Mathews, N Kulasekara, K Kulakekara, R Herath, L Malinga, D Prasad.


Sri Lanka: 266-9 (50 overs,5.32rpo)
U Tharanga 58(65) M Morkel 2-65
N Kulasekara 40(38) JP Duminy 1-26

South Africa: 179-5 (34 overs, 5.26rpo)
F du Plessis 72(74) L Malinga 2-20
AB de Villiers 39*(36) T Dilshan 1-22

South Africa won by 4 runs(D/L method)

Also Read: South Africa finally record a D/L win

File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20