SRI LANKA TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2019
Cricbuzz Staff •
Du Plessis’s 11th ODI hundred paved way for an easy South African win © Getty
Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock displayed what kind of batting the friendly conditions at the Wanderers demanded on Sunday (March 3). But that was not to hide anything from Sri Lanka’s sub-par show – with bat, ball and on the field – that paved way for an 8-wicket loss in the first ODI. The 136-run partnership that the South African duo stitched for the second wicket, which laid the platform for the chase, was abundantly aided by misfields, overthrows and a dropped catch as much as it was by some free-flowing boundaries.
In the eighth over of the chase, soon after du Plessis had gotten out of his early struggle to rotate the strike, he had crushed Thisara Perera for three consecutive boundaries. And then off the last, he got an outside edge to a slash only for Lakshan Sadakan to put down the easiest of chances down at short third man. There was no looking back from thereon as chances rarely went their way. Du Plessis cashed in and de Kock continued his own merry innings.
One of the most entertaining phases of their partnership came soon after de Kock brought up his fifty as he laid into Sri Lanka’s attack, striking seven boundaries in 12 balls to rush his way to 79 in no time. He departed soon after, trapped leg before by Akila Dananjaya, but by then, South Africa were left needing only 82 with more than half their overs still in hand.
The fall of de Kock’s wicket only proved to be a blip as Du Plessis continued his calculated, aggressive charge in company of an in-form Rassie van der Dussen, who didn’t do any bad to his chances for a place in the World Cup squad with an unbeaten 43-ball 32 as the hosts chased down the target in 38.5 overs. In the process, du Plessis also stroked his 11th ODI century.
But for as clinical as South Africa’s chase was, it was the bowlers who set up the win for the hosts, bundling out Sri Lanka for 231 after putting them in. The visitors had two partnerships that bailed them out, but barring debutant Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis, none of the other batsmen made a significant contribution.
Sri Lanka’s woes began early as Lungisani Ngidi dismissed both their openers in his first two overs. However, Fernando and Kusal Perera revived the innings well. While the former played some audacious strokes showing little respect for the venomous pace that South Africa’s three frontline fast bowlers unleashed, the latter was surprisingly cautious. Nonetheless, on a good batting track, the duo stitched 76 for the third wicket and pulled the initiative back from South Africa.
But much like how the two openers fell in quick succession earlier in the innings and much how another set pair was to fall later, this duo also departed in a brief interval. Imran Tahir, coming in to the attack in the 17th over induced an outside edge off Kusal Perera’s bat with a googly to separate the pair.
Oshada, who had paced his way to the 40s with some sublime strokeplay, including a six straight over Ngidi’s head, had slowed down as he closed in on his maiden fifty. It seemed a well deserving one, especially in an innings where the other Sri Lankan batsmen were struggling against the heat of the pace and Tahir’s guile. However, a miscommunication with Kusal Mendis led to him getting run out on 49.
Mendis, nonetheless, kept Sri Lanka’s charge going despite the twin fall. He put on 94 for the fifth wicket in the company of Dananjaya de Silva, one that would give Sri Lanka hope of possibly going past the 300-run mark. But much like 20 overs earlier, Tahir’s return again disturbed a well-settled alliance. The leggie first teased de Silva with a legbreak and had him stumped and then managed to dismiss Kusal Mendis. Batting on 60, Kusal Mendis looked to loft over the in-field but ended up giving van der Dussen an easy catch at cover.
The twin dismissal paved way for a collapse, one through which Sri Lanka could never recover. From 195 for 4 they were shot out for 231. Tahir returned figures of 3 for 26 from his 10 overs, while Ngidi also finished with three scalps to his name.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 231 in 48 overs (Kusal Mendis 60, Oshada Fernando 49; Imran Tahir 3-26, Lungisani Ngidi 3-60) lost to South Africa 232/2 in 38.5 overs (Faf du Plessis 112*, Quinton de Kock 81; Vishwa Fernando 1-43, Akila Dananjaya 1-52) by 8 wickets.