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Proteas clinch Sunfoil series on D/L result

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South Africa finally got on the right end of a Duckworth/Lewis decision when they beat Sri Lanka by four runs in a rain-shortened match at Chevrolet Park on Tuesday evening. Play was halted as it turned out permanently at the end of the 34th over at which stage the home side had scored 179/5 as opposed to the 175 runs required by the D/L method.

The result gave the Proteas a winning 3-0 lead in the five-match Sunfoil ODI series. It was a cruel way for Sri Lanka to lose the series but there weren't be any tears from coach Gary Kirsten and senior player Graeme Smith who were both part of the Proteas' squad to be knocked out of the 2003 World Cup by Sri Lanka under the same system.

One suspects that what will have pleased the Proteas' coaches and the national selectors more than the actual result was the opportunity it has given junior players the opportunity to show they can handle the pressure of winning matches in the absence of established stars such as Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis.

Sunfoil Man of the Match Faf du Plessis certainly took advantage of that opportunity. He became the third player in as many matches to be given the No. 4 batting slot after AB de Villiers at Paarl and JP Duminy at Buffalo Park. He came to the crease with the Proteas an unhealthy 29/2 and handled a difficult situation extremely well.

When he was run out for 72 (74 balls, 7 fours) he had the Proteas in a position from which they could win the match and his dismissal was more the result of an attack of cramp rather than any fault of his own. He looked well set for a maiden international century but in the end had to settle for a career best.

Whether the Proteas would have won the match had it gone the full distance is a matter of conjecture. De Villiers and Albie Morkel seemed fully in control of a situation that required a rate of less than a run a ball.

Sri Lanka on the other hand will point out that they were one wicket away from getting into the Proteas' lower order and that their key wicket taker, Lasith Malinga, had only bowled half of his allotment of overs.

A notable feature of the match was that four batsmen (two on each side) were run out – three of them by direct hits and they were all key wickets – Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene for Sri Lanka and Du Plessis and JP Duminy for the Proteas.

In the end Sri Lanka will be rueing the fact that so many of their batsmen got starts but nobody could bat longer than Upul Tharanga who made 58 off 65 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes. Had one of their batsmen managed to carry through for a longer period then they could well have set a target in the region of 280 to 300 rather than the 266 which looked a bit shy of par at the halfway stage.

The match marked 50 ODI appearances for both Morne Morkel and Robbie Peterson but more important was De Villiers' series win at the first attempt.

Also Read: The Complete Match Report