The Proteas’ winning streak in the ODI series against Sri Lanka came to an end on Wednesday after they fell short by three runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method in the fourth match in Kandy.
It was a strange day at the office for the South Africans, who were arguably only kept in the game by three rain interruptions and the initial lack of confidence of the home side.
An inexperienced attack – which didn’t have the rested Kagiso Rabada – was smashed to all parts as the Sri Lankans raced to an imposing 306/7 in their allotted 39 overs.
That was always going to be a stretch to overhaul before a final shower brought the Proteas right back into the game, with the target revised to 191 off 21 overs.
They looked on course for a comfortable win as when they reached 102/2 in the 10th over before the impressive Hashim Amla (40) agonisingly found point off a fairly poor delivery.
Instead of just going about things calmly, South Africa were far too eager to try and get the runs as quickly as possible.
It led to a slew of wickets as the inexperienced middle and lower order simply couldn’t stay at the crease long enough.
That said, JP Duminy’s decision to go for a risky run after he had reached 38 off 23 was a turning point.
In fact, it was a poor piece of judgement from a key player.
Thereafter the wily duo of Suranga Lakmal (3/46) and Thisara Perera (2/32) snuffed out the Proteas’ hopes.
Sri Lanka’s attacking batting effort featured three half-centuries, including a brilliant 34-ball 65 from Dasun Shanaka.
His 109-run stand for the seventh wicket with Perera was thrilling to watch but the South African attack, which featured a debutant in Junior Dala, didn’t exactly make it difficult for them.