Chasing 204, South Africa were bundled out for 125 as the Sri Lanka spinners weaved their magic in the third and final ODI in Colombo.
The 78-run win over South Africa in the third ODI helped Sri Lanka jump four places to the fifth spot on the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League standings.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat first. South Africa, who made a tremendous comeback in the last game to level the series 1-1, decided to stick with the winning combination. the hosts, on the other hand, made three changes – Minod Bhanuka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Akila Dananjaya made way for Dinesh Chandimal, Kamindu Mendis and debutant Maheesh Theekshana.
The hosts got off to a less-than-ideal start with the bat, losing Avishka Fernando and Dinesh Chandimal in the Powerplay. South Africa's decision to bring the spinners on within the first 10 overs paid off, with both batsmen falling to the guile of Keshav Maharaj and George Linde respectively.
Linde picked up his second wicket of the match, snaring Mendis with a stunning catch off his own bowling. At the other end, Dhananjaya de Silva kept the scoreboard ticking but fell to the part-time spin of Aiden Markram as Sri Lanka slid to 94/4 at the end of 20 overs.
Skipper Dasun Shanaka was the next to fall, holing out in the deep in the bid to accelerate the scoring. Two overs later, Wanindu Hasaranga made the long walk back after failing to clear Reeza Hendricks at long-on with the inside out lofted drive.
Charith Asalanka and Chamika Karunaratne's 33-run stand for the seventh wicket took Sri Lanka's score past 150 before both of them fell within a space of 12 runs. Dushmantha Chameera's steady knock of 29 helped the hosts cross the 200-run mark, setting the visitors a target of 204.
As expected, the spinners made merry on the Premadasa track, giving away a combined 142 runs in 40 overs while accounting for 8 wickets.
Sri Lanka needed to strike early in the second innings to make a game of a slightly below-par target they had set and they did just that. Within the first five overs, Markram, Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen were back in the pavilion.
It was a dream debut for Theekshana as he dismissed Janneman Malan off his first ball in international cricket after which rain halted play for a while.
Right after the break, Hasaranga completely castled Wiaan Mulder with the googly as the Proteas lost half their side for just 48. Heinrich Klaasen, the only player to cross the 20-run mark for South Africa, was trapped in front of the stumps by Theekshana soon after.
Andile Phehlukwayo and Linde then came together and strung a 36-run stand but the game was far away from South Africa's grasp by then. Wickets continued to fall in heaps as Sri Lanka scalped Phehlukwayo, Linde and Rabada in a span of four overs.
Maharaj and Shamsi's last-wicket partnership of 23 only delayed the inevitable as Sri Lanka clinched the decider by 78 runs.
Dream debut for Maheesh Theekshana 🤩— ICC (@ICC) September 7, 2021
His four-for helps Sri Lanka seal the series with a comfortable 78-run win over South Africa in the final ODI 👏#SLvSA | https://t.co/TGt8VRPSar pic.twitter.com/5mf3mhi8Nb
For 29 runs and two wickets, Dushmantha Chameera was awarded the Player of the Match. Charith Asalanka, who was the top scorer in the three matches with 196 runs, won the Player of the Series.
The two teams will now clash in a three-match T20I series, the first of which will be played on 10 September.
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