Sri Lanka put on a disappointing display with the bat once again as they posted just 225 on the board in the final ODI in Newlands. Having already conceded the series. the visitors were looking to nick a much-needed win to boost their confidence, only for the batsmen to let the team down again.
The innings started with Avishka Fernando inside-edging a free-hit onto his stumps in the very first over after Sri Lanka opted to bat on a track that looked placid. He never looked comfortable in his short stay at the wicket and it was Lungi Ngidi who sent him back to the pavilion to start the procession.
After initially edging one to the slip cordon that flew to the boundary, Avishka edged a similar delivery once again in the same over and saw the third slip to pouch it. Four balls later, Upul Tharanga played a loose stroke outside off to edge Kagiso Rabada behind to the wicketkeeper. Such a shot from a seasoned veteran showcased Sri Lanka’s weak mentality, especially in this format with a World Cup just two and a half months away.
Their batting has collapsed in every game of this series on wickets that have been predominantly batting friendly. On Saturday (March 16), it was no different as the visitors even played out 15 dot balls consecutively at one stage in the first powerplay. Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis put up a resistance for a while with no real emphasis on upping the scoring rate. And when Imran Tahir was introduced into the attack in the 18th over, he immediately struck in his final ODI on home soil. Oshada, who had stuttered on his way to a 46-ball 22, edged one to slip.
Kusal looked in control though as he pounced on a shortish delivery from Anrich Nortje to pull him over midwicket for a boundary. Angelo Perera provided some much-needed relief for Sri Lanka in terms of the scoring rate as he continued to busy out in the middle, proving to be the ideal foil for Kusal.
But once again, just when Sri Lanka were appearing to fetch some momentum after Kusal’s fifty, Tahir struck again to dent the visitors. The veteran bowled a quicker one to Angelo after getting hit for a boundary previously in the same over and the batsman only edged it to slip this time. Kusal himself didn’t last long when a terrible miscommunication out in the middle cost him his wicket.
From thereon, Sri Lanka just continued to crumble as they also lost the key wicket of Thisara Perera before he could even launch himself in the death overs. Sri Lanka needed some valuable contribution from the bat of Isuru Udana yet again to cross the 200-run mark as he was involved in a quick half-century stand with Priyamal Perera. Their efforts took them to 225 but a 5-0 result still looks inevitable nevertheless.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 225 in 49.3 overs (Kusal Mendis 56, Priyamal Perera 33; Kagiso Rabada 3-50, Imran Tahir 2-33) vs South Africa.