Tuesday 14th August, 2018
29.2
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lower-order-lakmal-end-sri-lankas-losing-run

Lower order, Lakmal end Sri Lanka's losing run

ESPN - Thursday 9th August, 2018

39 overs Sri Lanka 306 for 7 (Shanaka 65, Thisara 51*, Kusal Perera 51, Duminy 2-35, Ngidi 2-65) v South Africa

Sri Lanka's first fifty-plus opening stand in the series and a rapid 68-ball 109 stand between Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka hauled Sri Lanka to 306 in a rain-interrupted 39-overs-a-side contest in Pallekele. With the series already lost, Sri Lanka batted with the freedom not seen previously in the series. South Africa have been set a revised target of 308 according to the DLS calculation.

The protagonists were the Pereras - Kusal and Thisara - along with Shanaka, who inflicted maximum damage. Shanaka, playing in his 10th ODI and his first since November 2016, was the chief aggressor. His 65 off 34 balls knocked the wind out of an inexperienced attack's sails. In Kagiso Rabada's absence, only JP Duminy was able to keep his economy rate below six an over, with the young seamers and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj all leaking runs.

Sri Lanka's innings was interrupted by two rain delays that reduced the contest 39-overs-a-side eventually, after initially being set to 43 and then to 43. The first shower made its appearance after the first over, bowled by Lungi Ngidi. After a 14-minute delay, the players returned for 7.5 overs during which Niroshan Dickwella dominated to take three boundaries off debutant Junior Dala's fourth over. He raced to 31 off 26 before the second interruption that lasted 35 minutes.

Dickwella fell immediately upon resumption in an attempt to paddle JP Duminy as de Kock took the catch. Upul Tharanga then took over from where Dickwella left off and sent Andile Phehlulwayo for back-to-back boundaries and Wiaan Mulder for a six over long-off before falling off the next delivery through an off-cutter that beat his inside edge. Mulder's yo-yo over continued as Kusal Perera drilled his next ball down the ground for four.

Having gotten off to a start, Kusal Mendis committed hara-kiri attempting to slog sweep a full delivery only to be lbw off Keshav Maharaj, but his namesake - Kusal Perera - went on to bring up his 11th half-century. He also starred in a 59-run partnership for the fourth-wicket with Angelo Mathews, who was dropped on 1 by Mulder in his followthrough. Mathews responded with an on-drive for four and Mulder's erratic game continued when Kusal Perera pulledand swatted him for sixes. Mulder finished as the most expensive bowler with 51 runs coming from his six overs.

Mathews found his rhythm, but his aggression got the better of him when he went after Lungi Ngidi for a second time. Mathews threw his bat at a delivery outside off, got a thick outside edge and de Kock flung himself to his right to pluck the ball out of the air.

Kusal Perera kept the pressure on Maharaj with a ferocious sweep shots and brought up fifty off 28 balls off Ngidi. With 15 overs still left in the innings, Kusal Perera may have been eyeing a hundred but he needed partners. Dhanajaya de Silva hit a an Ngidi slower ball straight to sweeper cover, and14 balls later, Kusal Perera followed him to leave Thisara needing to launch an assault of his own to proper Sri Lanka to a competitive score. He did not disappoint.

Thisara's big-hitting ability is well-known and he flexed his muscles with two fours in his first 30 balls, during which strike rotation was a bigger feature of his game. It was Shanaka who showed off his power in that period. His first shot in anger was a slow-sweep over mid-wicket off Duminy and he went on to thump Mulder over mid-off, sent a Phehlukwayo slower ball over mid-wicker, hoicked Dala off his hips and then took 21 runs off Dala's final over to bring up fifty off 30 balls.

By then, Perera had joined in on the fun, almost took Ngidi's hand off as he slammed the ball past him for four and then smoked him for six over mid-wicket and found six more over Ngidi's head. Thisara's fifty came off 44 balls. Shanaka was dismissed in the final over but by then Sri Lanka had done major damage. They scored 105 runs in the last ten overs to give de Kock plenty to ponder in his first match as captain.

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