14 July 2014
The Proteas claimed their first one-day international series win in Sri Lanka in emphatic fashion on the weekend, thrashing the hosts by 82 runs in the series-deciding third ODI in Hambantota.
South African captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat. It was a decision that was well rewarded.
Up front, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock put on 118 for the first wicket before Amla, the scorer of centuries in the first two matches of the series, was dismissed for 48.
De Kock and De Villiers partnership
Jacques Kallis departed cheaply, but De Kock and De Villiers then came together to put on 116 for the third wicket. When De Kock was out in the 41st over, he had made an excellent 128 off 127 balls and helped the total to 248.
The left-hander’s dismissal offered no respite to the Sri Lankan bowlers as De Villiers accelerated his scoring rate. He was eventually out in the second last over of the South African innings for a splendid 108 off only 71 deliveries, which earned him the man of the match award.
With JP Duminy weighing in with 29, the Proteas totalled 339 in their 50 overs, the highest score ever attained in an ODI at Hambantota.
In reply, Sri Lanka had at least half of their batsmen get decent starts, but none of them was able to push on as De Kock and De Villiers had done.
Skipper Angelo Mathews top scored with 58, while Kusal Perera, Tillikaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Ashan Priyanian all made it into the 30s but not beyond as the Sri Lankans were bowled out for 257 in the 45th over.
Ryan McLaren shone with the ball, capturing 3 for 37 in eight overs, Morne Morkel and JP Duminy picked up two wickets apiece, and Imran Tahir excelled, turning the screws by claiming the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene and conceding only 29 runs in his 10 overs.
‘It sends out a statement’
It was an important win, South Africa’s captain AB de Villiers said after the game. “It sends out a statement of what we can achieve as a team, not just for everyone out there, but more importantly for ourselves,” he said.
“In all kinds of sports you have to get the confidence going within before you can start proving people wrong or right. For me, the biggest step was for us to start believing in ourselves as a team.
“We never gave up,” he added. “The difficult part was when the nonsense hit the fan, we didn’t run away. We were there as a team sticking together and that is what it is all about.”
Underlining the superb achievement of winning in Sri Lanka, De Villiers continued: “We came into this series knowing that we hadn’t won one here before, so we knew that it would be a lot of hard work. Sri Lanka have been playing amazing cricket of late, winning the Asia Cup and then an away ODI Series in England, and they seemed to be very hungry to keep raising that bar.
“We had a few heart-to-heart sessions and hard talks in between but, ultimately, it comes down to a lot of hard work,” he said.
“Quinton, today, laid the foundation up front, which allowed myself and a couple of other batsmen to express ourselves in the middle order. We were under the pump in the first 10 overs with the ball in hand and the way we came back pleased me a lot. All the hard work was worth it at the end of the day.”
Modestly, De Villiers described his 71-ball century as “not his best”, but gave himself credit for the way he responded to the pressure in search of a match-winning total.
“Succeeding under the pressure that was on us, knowing that 300 would be a winning score, was probably worth more,” he said. “I felt like I still had too many dot balls and was looking for boundaries too often. In a perfect world obviously I would want less. I really enjoyed the innings, it was not my best but probably in my top five.”
Man of the Series
Hashim Amla was named man of the series for scoring 258 runs at an average of 86. De Villiers lent strong support with 212 runs at 70.66.
Ryan McLaren led the South African bowlers with nine wickets at a miserly average of 13.11 per wicket and an economy rate of 4.91 per over. Imran Tahir was the most economical of the South African bowlers, conceding only 4.44 runs an over in snaring 6 for 120 in the 27 overs he sent down.