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Dilshan helps Sri Lanka level series despite Amla ton

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Hosts Sri Lanka bounced back in style as they cruised to an 87-run victory over South Africa in the second ODI at Pallekele to level the series 1-1. The Proteas failed in their attempt to chase a target of 268 runs despite Hashim Amla scoring his second consecutive century of the tour.

Skipper Angelo Mathews won the toss and elected to bat first on a track that looked good for batting. Tillakaratne Dilshan gave his side a brisk start before the Sri Lankans lost opener Kusal Perera (7) early following which Morne Morkel had in-form Kumar Sangakkara caught behind for 7, leaving Sri Lanka on 63-2 in 9 overs.

Dilshan did most of the early scoring despite the two wickets going down as he raced to a half century of just 39 balls. However, the Proteas received a body blow as Steyn took a nasty hit on his thumb while attempting to catch Dilshan off his own bowling in the third over of his opening spell. Duminy came on to bowl the remaining four deliveries as Steyn left the field and never came on to bowl again.

Lahiru Thirimanne, who walked in ahead of Mahela Jayawardene at no.4, then put on 62 runs together with Dilshan before he pulled a poor ball from Imran Tahir straight to deep mid-wicket for 36, following which Dilshan who looked set for a century, was dismissed for 86 as the South Africans pegged the hosts back to 154-4.

Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews then put on 77 runs for the 5th wicket as they gave their side the perfect position to launch big in the last 10 overs. However, Jayawardene was cleaned up by Tahir for 48, leaving the Sri Lankans on 225-5 in the 43rd over. Ashan Priyanjan then raced to 25 off 14 balls after sending Morkel for a six and a four before Ryan Mclaren removed Mathews (34) and Kulasekera (0) in the next over. Rain halted play for a while before the Proteas cleaned up the Lankan tail.

Chasing a target of 268 for a series win, the visitors got off to a shaky start as a Lasith Malinga special cleaned up Quinton De Kock’s leg stump for 4. Malinga was at it again when he had Jacques Kallis caught behind off a short ball, leaving South Africa wobbly on 26-2. Hashim Amla carried on from his brilliant century in the last game as he kept his side in the hunt courtesy some well-timed boundaries.

AB De Villiers creamed one through point off Nuwan Kulasekera to get off the mark as he along with Amla, who brought up a run-a-ball fifty, got South Africa back on track with a partnership of 75. However, De Villiers threw his wicket away as soon as South Africa posted 100 on the board as he danced down the track in his attempt to dispatch Dilshan for six, only to be caught at long-on for 29. JP Duminy had his stay cut short when he edged an Ajantha Mendis delivery straight into the gloves of Sangakkara for 1, leaving South Africa on 104-4.

The Sri Lankans put down Amla and David Miller in the 22nd over, though the Proteas never really recovered despite the two reprieves as the wickets continued to tumble. Amla, who was well-set on 67, received no support from the opposite end as the Proteas lost their way to 127-7, with David Miller, Ryan Mclaren and Vernon Philander all falling cheaply thanks to a superb spell of bowling from Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Amla continued his lone hand as he brought up his century in the company of Dale Steyn, who seemed fit to bat, as the two put on some fight with a stand of 53 runs. Malinga then put an end to the South African hopes as dismissed Amla for 101, following which he sent Morne Morkel packing two balls later. Mendis trapped Steyn in front of stumps next over as the Proteas were bundled out for 180.

The two sides now go into the third and final ODI with everything to play for. The South Africans would be eager to put one bad result behind them if they are to win their first ODI series in Sri Lanka, while the Lankans will be desperate to maintain their proud home record.

Mini Scorecard:

Sri Lanka 267 all out (49.2 overs, 5.41 rpo)

T Dilshan 86 (90)  R Mclaren 4-48 (10)

M Jayawardene 48 (70)  I Tahir 2-41 (10)

South Africa 180 all out (38.1 overs, 4.71 rpo)

H Amla 101 (102) L Malinga 4-24 (6)

AB De Villiers 29 (41)  T Dilshan 3-40 (10)