Tillakaratne Dilshan’s 99 aided by an unbeaten 75 from Kumar Sangakkara towards the end took Sri Lanka to 307 for the loss of four wickets at Colombo on Wednesday. With the series already out of their reach, South Africa will have nothing to lose when they chase this tough total on an equally challenging pitch.
Electing to bat, Sri Lanka allowed some of their youngsters an opportunity to play in this dead rubber. Kusal Perera who got yet another opportunity to make his mark opened with Dilshan. The pitch at Colombo was nothing different from the previous encounters and the home side accustomed its batting effectively to this fact. While Perera yet again failed to keep his temperament under check by gifting his wicket away to Morne Morkel scoring just nine, Dilshan restrained himself from playing any extravagant shots.
Lahiru Thirimanne who struggled to impress in the previous three opportunities in this series was promoted up the order. Thirimanne along with Dilshan presented a great example of patience by being watchful on a sluggish wicket and not letting the South African bowlers to make more inroads.
Their 163-run partnership in just over 29 overs set the launchpad for the rest of the batsmen to score at ease. Thirimanne was dismissed by Aaron Phangiso for 68 after JP Duminy took a fine catch at the boundary. Within a few overs Dilshan’s missed his 18th century by just a run as he was dismissed by Ryan McLaren. The batsman tried to on-drive a full-length delivery and misjudged it only to see the ball crashing into his middle-stump.
With 212 on board and 11 more overs to go, it was a clear indication that the rest of the batsmen will look to attack. While skipper Angelo Mathews managed a quick 23, the fifth-wicket partnership of Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera kept the opposition at bay. Sangakkara in particular plundered the bowlers all around the ground. Suddenly the field placing didn’t matter and the wristy batsman found the gaps with consummate ease.
As his aggressive innings progressed, he executed the reverse flick and scoop to perfection as well. The entertaining innings of 75 not out from 45 balls was laced with 12 boundaries. Perera at the other end ensured that his senior partner got more of the strike as he remained unbeaten on 17 from 14 balls.
This series has been completely dominated by Sangakkara who has scored 372 runs in the five matches at an average of 93 with a career-best 169 to showcase as well.
There was not much for the South African bowlers except for Ryan McLaren who picked the prized wicket of Dilshan without giving away many runs. Morkel will surely like to forget this series after a wayward performance.
There’s no doubt that South African batsmen are capable of chasing the total, but the wicket might just get a bit tougher. Moreover the record at Premadasa too isn’t much on the visitor’s side. The highest successful run-chase at this venue is 288 by India.
Sri Lanka 307 for 4 in 50 overs(Tillakaratne Dilshan 99, Kumar Sangakkara 75*; Ryan McLaren 1 for 47) vs South Africa