Sri Lanka’s 78-run triumph over South Africa, not only warmed the cockels of having come out of the shackles of a near 2-year barren ODI series past, it also marked such a success turn over the Proteas after 8 years.
What is more the euphoric champagne driven partying in the Lankan camp was an overflowing joy to skipper Dasun Shanaka and his team and of course the country’s citadel of the game Sri Lanka Cricket tucked into the fact that Sri Lanka, by this achievement, had frog leaped from 10th position to 5th in the ICC Super League Points table.
Indeed, this stock raising is high stuff for the former world cup champions now on a concentrated rebuilding drive theming on young blood to reviving a long flagging image that led to a recent team shake-up accentuating on captaincy change and new brooms in place of the old.
Indeed, the sky high champagne mood came in a significant heralding of the new sheen further accentuated by debutants – spinner, Maheesh Theekshana and young batting prodigy Kamindu Mendis with the new revelation Charith Asalanka the center piece playmaker in Sri Lanka winning an ODI series after 18 months. Sri Lanka tightroped to a healthy 203 for 9 off 50 overs on a tricky wicket capped by the ascension of young lèft-hander Charith Asalanka by a top score of 47 off 71 balls (2×4) in the wake of 72 and 77 in the previous two games as the stoic left-hander decorated himself in the rich Player of the Series award.
It was all over by the 30th over as the South Africans crumbled to 125 against the wily right arm spin of Maheesh Theekshana in a truly fairytale debut claiming a wicket with his very first delivery with the prize wicket of Janneman Malan, centurion in the previous game whom he had caught behind cheaply as the Proteas were reduced to 45 for 4. That was after pace bowler Dushmantha Chameera had started the slide in a two wicket burst followed by leggie Praveen Jayawickrama reigning in with a wicket as the visitors run chase slithered at 19 for 3 in 5 overs. In the final clean up, Theekshana returned figures of 4 for 37 while Chameera’s 2 for 16 along with his 39-ball 29 (3×4) that lifted Sri Lanka to a match winning depth in a ninth-wicket 32 off 44 with Theekshana who as well underscored his all-round depth unbeaten òn 10. Wanindu Hasaranga weighed in with 3 for 32.
Sri Lanka’s total was further upped by contributions by Dhananjaya de Silva 31 off 44 (2×4) sharing in fourth-wicket partnership of 31 off 48 with Kamindu Mendis (16), Chamika Karunaratne (16) sharing in seventh wicket partnership of 33 off 65 with Asalanka.
CHIEF SCORES: Sri Lanka 203/9 (50 Overs) (Charith Asalanka 47, Dhananjaya de Silva 31, Dushmantha Chameera 29, Kamindu Mendis 16, Chamika Karunaratne 16, Maheesh Theekshana n.o. 10, Keshav Maharaj 3/38. Tabriaz Shamshi 2/3, George Linde 2/32)
South Africa 125 (30) Overs (Henrich Klassen 22, Maheesh Theekshana 4/37, Wanindu Hasaranga 3/32, Dushmantha Chameera 2/16)