Sri Lanka ran out winners of the fourth ODI against South Africa by three runs (DLS) runs in a rain-affected thriller in Pallekele. Chasing a revised target of 191 from 21 overs, the visitors required eight runs from the final over with two wickets in hand but fell just short of a fourth straight victory.
With set batsman David Miller (21) on strike for the start of Suranga Lakmal’s [above] final over, South Africa hoped for more, but Miller turned down a single first ball of the over (with debutant bowler Junior Dala up the other end) and was bowled with the second to leave Dala and No.11 Lungi needing eight off four balls, which proved too much.
The exciting finale came in a game that was frequently interrupted by rain breaks that sent the players off the field and the target – and match-length – constantly changing, with DLS to the fore.
Following two rain breaks in the first innings, South Africa were set a total of 308 to win from 39 overs on DLS.
South Africa got off to a flyer in their chase with stand-in captain Quinton de Kock helping his side to 21 from the first two overs before rain struck again. When finally the weather relented, his side were set 191 from 21 overs on DLS. They needed 170 from 19.
They looked well set to get there with time to spare. De Kock fell for 23 off 13 but his opening partner Hashim Amla continued for a well-made 40 off 23 with six fours. He and JP Duminy (38) put on 57 for the third wicket, and Heinrich Klaasen added 17 to leave the visitors 129/4 off 12.2 with Duminy and Miller at the crease.
But from there followed something of a capitulation. Duminy was run out by Shanaka and thereafter regular wickets and an excellent late bowling display let the hosts back into it. Lakmal ended with 3/46 from his five, and held his nerve for the final over, Thisara had taken 2/32 and Dhananjaya de Silva 1/26.
Earlier, Sri Lanka’s openers had passed 50 for the first time in the series. That partnership, and a rapid 68-ball 109 stand between Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka had got the hosts to 306 in a rain-interrupted 39-over innings.
The Pereras – Kusal and Thisara – along with Shanaka, were to thank for the competitive total, Shanaka hitting 65 off 34 balls.
Sri Lanka’s innings was interrupted by two rain delays that reduced the contest to 39-overs-a-side eventually. The first shower came after one over and, after a 14-minute delay, the players returned for 7.5 overs during which Niroshan Dickwella dominated debutant Junior Dala, before the second rain delay came and lasted just over half an hour.
Dickwella fell immediately upon resumption for 34, and Upul Tharanga then fell for 36 to a Wiaan Mulder off-cutter.
Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews added useful runs, with Kusal in particular playing well, and after Mathews perished Kusal received excellent support from Thisara, who hit 51 not out from 45 and after Kusal fell for 51 off 32 it was the late aggression of Shanaka that helped set up what became a thrilling match.