PALLEKELE, Sunday: On a flat Pallekele International Stadium pitch South Africa displayed their full batting potential to run up the highest total at this venue - 363-7 in 50 overs to beat Sri Lanka by 78 runs and take a winning 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Leading South Africa’s run-spree was one-day debutant Reeza Hendricks whose knock of 102 off 89 balls with eight fours and a six provided his team with the impetus for their final total. Hendricks was not alone in the run-making for Hashim Amla (59), Jean-Paul Duminy (92) and David Miller (51) all joined the band-wagon as they put the Lankan bowling to the sword.
It was another sorry spectacle of batting by the Lankans against South Africa’s varied attack of fast bowlers who have held the upperhand in the one-day series. They have been responsible for taking 21 of the 27 wickets to fall so far to bowlers.
Yesterday saw another instance where Sri Lanka had not learnt their lessons from the past two ODIs. The batsmen made the same mistakes failing to survive the opening spells of Rabada and Ngidi in the first 8-10 overs. It is a well known fact that South Africa’s strength lay in these initial overs and it was stated by none than the Lankan batting coach Thilan Samaraweera soon after Sri Lanka’s loss in the first ODI where they slumped to 36-5 but recovered later to post 193 after the opening bowlers came off.
All the batsmen got starts but none stayed long enough to convert them into big ones like Hendricks and Duminy did for South Africa with the exception of Dhananjaya de Silva who was included for his first game in the series at the expense of Shehan Jayasuriya.
De Silva one of Sri Lanka’s brightest stars carried the fight to the bowlers to hit a career best 84 off 66 balls spiced with three sixes and eight fours. He lifted the spirits of the large crowd that was present with his excellent stroke play around the wicket.
With Akila Dananjaya offering him good support with 37 off 42 balls, De Silva added 95 for the seventh wicket off 77 balls although it was in a losing cause. The Lankan lower order showed the top order that there was enough runs to score on the pitch if they had only applied themselves.
The South African innings never lost momentum once Amla had given them a flying start posting a run-a-ball 59 (9 fours, 1 six) despite losing his opening partner Quinton de Kock for 2 as early as the sixth over.
Hendricks and Duminy continued the onslaught with a stand of 78 off 73 balls and after Hendricks’ fine knock was ended by Lahiru Kumara, Duminy joined by David Miller put together the best partnership of the innings – 103 off 70 balls that saw South Africa pummel 71 runs off the final five and reach their third highest total against Sri Lanka after the 384-6 at Centurion and 367-5 at Cape Town both scored in 2017.
The 26-year-old Hendricks whose previous international experience is representing his country in 12 T20Is became the third SA batsman to score a hundred on ODI debut after Colin Ingram v Zimbabwe in 2010 and Temba Bavuma v Ireland in 2016 and 14th overall. He was named Man of the Match.
He was the fifth batsman to score an ODI debut hundred against Sri Lanka following Andy Flower (Zimbabwe), late Phil Hughes (Australia), and Pakistanis Inzamam-ul-Haq and Saleem Elahi.
The imperious Duminy struck four sixes and eight fours in his extraordinary 70-ball knock for 92 missing out on a well deserved century when he played an over ambitious pull to hole out to deep midwicket.
Miller one of the hardest hitters of the ball in one-day cricket raced to a half-century off 47 balls with the aid of five fours and a six and Andile Phehelukwayo piled on the misery before the overs ran out making 24 not out off 11 balls.
All the Lankan bowlers went for runs as none were spared. The best return was by Thisara Perera who took four wickets despite going for 75 runs off his 10 overs.
Akila Dananjaya who had taken six wickets in the first two ODIs suffered the most ending with figures of one for 81.
The fourth ODI a night game will be played at the same venue on Wednesday.