Cricket

Udana 78 drags Sri Lanka after Nortje assault


SRI LANKA TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2019

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Anrich Nortje finished with figures of 3 for 57 © AFP

In a dramatic turn of events, Sri Lanka staged a spectacular comeback through Isuru Udana, who struck a 57-ball 78 as the visitors recovered from 131 for nine to get reach 189 before getting bundled out in the fourth ODI at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday (March 13).

With the series done and dusted, both teams decided to experiment with their team combinations. Faf Du Plessis won the toss and tested Sri Lanka’s big weakness, by inserting them in to bat. The Proteas’ new ball bowlers – Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi were crafty enough to make use of the hint of movement available early on. Upul Tharanga, replacing Niroshan Dickwella at the top, looked confident, exhibiting a sublime drive through covers off the third ball he faced and Avishka Fernando too got going at the other end, striking two boundaries off the very next over. But the experienced Tharanga making a comeback himself, laid out a welcome mat for Dale Steyn, miscuing a short ball and getting caught at mid-on.

To make it worse for the visitors, Ngidi’s pace and tight lines kept Oshada Fernando – the in-form batsman – scoreless for three balls, before the mistake was induced. He attempted a wild slash and gifted his wicket away to Lungi Ngidi, bagging a four-ball duck. A batting Powerplay that cost Sri Lanka two wickets put them on the back foot, and set the visitors on course for a fourth hiding on the trot.

Kusal Mendis walked in next and reverted to a cautious approach. The 25-year old along with Avishka tried to repair the damage, adding 30 runs for the third wicket before South Africa came up with the ploy of bouncing the opener out, bringing the exciting Anrich Nortje into the attack. The plan worked wonders for the home team as Avishka fell into the trap and mistimed a short ball to Duminy at short-mid-wicket and became Nortje’s first victim.

Debutant Priyamal Perera didn’t have a great start to his international career, getting strangled down the leg-side off his first ball. Kamindu and Kusal Mendis steadied the ship for a brief while but couldn’t kick-on. Both batsmen fell in a span of five balls as Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 20 runs in that passage of play.

The procession continued for the Islanders. Shamsi joined the party and scalped Thisara Perera which embedded them in further strife. Duminy too got into the act, getting Dhananjaya de Silva caught at deep backward square with a rank long hop. Sri Lanka’s day summed up with the bat when Lasith Malinga paid the price for his lacklustre running between the wickets. The Sri Lankan captain failed to plonk his bat at the non-striker’s end and that proved costly. Hendricks hit the stumps from short mid-wicket to catch Malinga short of his crease.

It appeared like they would surrender meekly but Isuru Udana wasn’t willing to go down without a fight. He staged a lone battle, wielding his willow at almost everything that came his way and blazed away to his maiden ODI fifty, off 43 balls. The highlight of his innings was three consecutive sixes off Nortje’s seventh over, with one of them sailing out of the ground. Udana and number 10 Kasun Rajitha strung together a record 58-run partnership for the final wicket with the former doing all the damage. The assault came to an end when Udana was finally caught at long-off for 78, after he’d dragged his team closer to the 200-run mark. Nortje was the pick of the bowlers for South Africa with 3 wickets. Andile Phehlukwayo took two while rest of the bowlers finished with a wicket apiece.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 189-all out in 20 overs (Isuru Udana 78; Anrich Nortje 3-57)

© Cricbuzz

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