10 July 2014
Despite a defiant century from in-form Hashim Amla, the Proteas slumped to an 87-run defeat to Sri Lanka in the second one-day international at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka’s victory levelled the three-match series at 1-1, with the series-decider set to be played in Hambantota on Saturday.
After winning the toss, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews elected to bat and it proved a good decision as Tillikaratne Dilshan led the way from the top of the order with an innings of 86 off 90 balls to help the home team to 267 all out after 49.2 overs.
Mahela Jayawardene weighed in with a slowish 48, while Lahiru Thirimanne contributed 36 and Matthews 34.
Unfortunately for the Proteas, they lost fast bowler Dale Steyn to a hand injury in only his third over when he tried to take a sharp caught and bowled off a shot by Dilshan. Fortunately for South Africa, however, fears that he might have broken the hand were later dispelled and he could be available for Saturday’s showdown.
In Steyn’s absence, Ryan McLaren once again underlined his all-round value to the team with a return of 4 for 48 from his 10 overs. Imran Tahir snared 2 for 41 in his 10, while Vernon Philander returned 2 for 49 in 7.2.
Only three South Africans reached double figures in the Proteas’ batting reply. Despite this, Amla struck his third consecutive century, following tons against a Sri Lankan Board President’s XI and against Sri Lanka in the first ODI. He made 101 off 102 balls, in an innings of just 180 all out.
“He’s an amazing cricketer and it is great to have him in our side, especially when he is playing like that,” South African captain AB de Villiers said in a post-match interview. “Even though we lost tonight, we still have confidence in him and the whole batting line-up to get it right in the last game.”
New ball bowler Lasitha Malinga did plenty of damage to the South African batting, claiming a haul of 4 for 24 in six overs, but it was the Sri Lankan spinners who put the skids under the South African batting effort by taking wickets and restricting scoring.
Dilshan secured the man of the match award by following up his 86 with a return of 3 for 40 with the ball. Ajantha Mendis also excelled, picking up 2 for 18 in 6.1 overs.
‘I’m very disappointed’
“I’m very disappointed. I thought we started really, really slowly with the ball, but pulled it back nicely to what seemed like a decent total to chase down,” De Villiers said.
“We started really well with the bat and Hash played an amazing innings, but we unfortunately could just not form partnerships around him, so it’s very disappointing, but we are still in the series and we’ll move on to Hambantota and try and fix things there.
‘A big blow’
Assessing what the loss of Steyn meant to South Africa’s chances in the big loss, he concluded: “Look, losing Dale was a big blow up front. I thought the guys tried really hard right until the end of our bowling innings. I thought we did extremely well to get it down to 260-odd, which was chaseable, not easy, but chaseable.
“I would have liked to see us get closer than what we did.”