Perera punishes Proteas
Thisara Perera smashed an unbeaten 69 from 44 balls as Sri Lanka restored some pride against South Africa with a five-wicket win in Kimberley.
After captain Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made a run-a-ball 87, and Dinesh Chandimal, with 59, had given Sri Lanka, 3-0 down in the series, a platform for victory, Perera struck three fours and five maximums to ensure his side claimed their first limited-overs triumph of the tour with eight deliveries remaining.
The Proteas looked well set to continue their whitewash of the tourists as skipper AB de Villiers used 76 balls to compile 96, including eight fours and three sixes, and his predecessor Graeme Smith made a vital 68 in their 299 for seven.
After winning the toss, South Africa started explosively with Smith and Alviro Petersen putting on 50 inside eight overs, but the latter departed five overs later, for 37, when he picked out Upul Tharanga at midwicket off Rangana Herath.
Smith eased past 50 and joined forces with de Villiers, the pair adding 87 in 10 overs with some fine strokeplay until Sri Lanka hit back with wickets in successive overs.
Lasith Malinga ended Smith’s 69-ball innings, the left-hander caught by Dilshan at short midwicket, and Nuwan Kulasekara trapped Colin Ingram lbw with a low full toss as the hosts slipped to 171 for three with half their overs remaining.
JP Duminy worked in tandem with the impressive de Villiers as they started to dominate the Sri Lanka bowlers, the latter compiling his half-century off just 31 balls.
However, Sri Lanka fought back with a trio of quick wickets to check South Africa’s progress.
Perera had Duminy caught behind and, in his next over, bowled a shuffling de Villiers down the leg side four short of his century.
Francois du Plessis edged Herath behind as South Africa lost momentum at 252 for six, but Wayne Parnell, who was run out for 21, and Robin Peterson, with an unbeaten 23, added late impetus.
In reply, Dilshan overcame the early loss of Tharanga, caught behind by de Villiers off Lonwabo Tsotsobe, with an array of attacking shots as Sri Lanka kept ahead of the rate.
Kumar Sangakkara’s breezy innings of 32 was ended by a brilliant catch from Petersen on the midwicket boundary, off Peterson, while Dilshan, who was saved by a successful lbw referral, fell with the score on 168 for three with the game in the balance.
Lahiru Thirimanne was deceived by a Vernon Philander slower ball and sliced to Duminy at short midwicket, but with Chandimal, bringing up his fifty off 61 balls, and Perera still at the crease Sri Lanka had hope.
The right-hander could only add nine more as he became Tsotsobe’s third victim but, with 54 required from nine overs, Perera, accompanied by Angelo Mathews, punished the Proteas bowlers to steer his side to a much-needed victory.