Lakshan Sandakan

Sri Lankan spin masterclass dupes South Africa in solitary T20I

SL v SA, Only T20I, report

Hit For Six!

South Africa were skittled for their lowest ever T20I total of 98 as a triple-wicket maiden from Lakshan Sandakan helped Sri Lanka to victory in an absorbing encounter.

Sri Lanka put on a show in front of a sell-out crowd in Colombo, securing a three-wicket win over the Proteas in what was a low-scoring but entertaining final match of the tour. 

The hosts' spinners were too much to handle for South Africa, and having won the toss, the visitors might have regretted batting first or perhaps playing across the line so persistently. Pride was restored somewhat for the visitors after a commendable resurgence with the ball, but it was ultimately to no avail as the hosts wheeled away as deserved victors.

The tourists won the toss, and Quinton de Kock got off to a flyer, notching three boundaries in the first four balls of the mach, albeit one via an inside edge. Hashim Amla then fell without troubling the scorers in the second over to Dhananjaya de Silva, whose wiley variations proved too tricky early on for the Proteas veteran, forcing a tame scoop for Dasun Shanaka to gobble at cover.

de Kock had looked dangerous before his untimely run out
de Kock had looked dangerous before his untimely run out

De Kock looked to be in potent touch before he was run out, following up a reverse-sweep for four with an attempted run off his pads and a rather laboured effort in getting to the other end allowed Lakshan Sandakan to fizz the ball to de Silva who whipped the bails off with aplomb.

Akila Dananjaya, fresh from his magnificent 6/29 in the final ODI between these two sides, then made another breakthrough, birthday boy Reeza Hendricks (19) falling to a wonderful leg-break as he swept, missed, and had his off-peg clattered. 

Stand-in skipper JP Duminy then also fell to the sweep, this one a reverse, as de Silva (2/22) grabbed his second scalp and a vitally important one given Duminy's T20 prowess. The umpire wasn't having the lbw, but upon review it was hitting leg, and South Africa were swiftly losing momentum as Sri Lanka's spinners looked to be doing the job once again.

Heinrich Klaasen (19) felt his way in with a couple of big hits before he was deceived by turn, this time to left-arm leg-spinner Sandakan, the third and final point of the home side's spin trident getting one to turn away sharply, forcing the batsman into a skewed aerial drive that flew into the safe hands of Kusal Mendis. An inspired Sandakan then proceeded to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada both for ducks in the same over. Phehlukwayo was the next victim of a failed sweep, subsequently getting cleaned up, while Rabada was trapped in front as Sandakan got another googly to rip. A stunning triple-wicket maiden had left the Proteas gasping for breath on 73/7, with no signs of the spin-threat subsiding. 

Dananjaya (2/15) concluded his virtually faultless spell with a wicket as a desperate David Miller (14) skied one in search of a boundary, and Dinesh Chandimal, returning to the side as wicket-keeper, did the rest. The seamers then cleaned up the tail leaving South Africa 98 all out inside 17 overs, Chandimal snaffling edges from both Lungo Ngidi (4) and Tabriaiz Shamsi (0), with Kasun Rajitha and Isuru Udana picking up a wicket apiece.

Having recorded their lowest ever score in a T20I and being outclassed by the home tweakers, South Africa needed a big performance in the second innings from premier spinner Shamsi and his supporting bowlers if they were to turn the game around.

Sri Lanka's reply began awfully, and it was pace that undid the openers this time, rather than spin. Rabada (2/24) picked up two wickets in the first over as the visitors started to believe, Kusal Perera (3) being cramped up by a shorter one and stabbing it to Shamsi at mid-on, before Mendis was trapped in front by a hooping in-swinger that was given out upon referral to the third umpire.

Chandimal and de Silva looked to restore some calm to the innings and did so with relative ease until the latter was dismissed for a useful 31, awkwardly pulling a short Junior Dala delivery into Phehlukwayo's hands at mid-wicket. A marvellous reaction catch diving to the left at short-leg from Klaasen then had captain Angelo Mathews out for a duck as Shamsi (2/26) picked up his first scalp.

Shanaka fell for 16 as Dala (2/22) notched his second wicket, and then Thisara Perera fell for a second ball-duck as Shamsi got one to turn into the left-hander, hitting middle stump via the gap between bat and pad and leaving the hosts 83/6 and just 16 short of the required 99. Dananjaya only provided two runs before Duminy cleaned him up, getting one to rip, and despite requiring just 11 runs, Sri Lanka were beginning to sweat having lost seven wickets.

Chandimal's patient approach was rewarded eventually, and he prevailed unscathed with an unbeaten and vital 36 as Udana's boundary secured victory for the hosts. The Proteas' comeback with the ball was admirable, but Chandimal was stoic and unperturbed in his bid to see his side home despite a late collapse.

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