TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
FOR a while at Newlands on Tuesday it looked like Upul Tharanga’s century would trump Faf du Plessis’ and take Sri Lanka to victory in the fourth one-day international.
But, in the end, normal service resumed and the home side claimed their eighth win from the 10 matches they have played against the Lankans in this lopsided summer.
South Africa won by 40 runs to stretch their advantage in a series they have already clinched to 4-0.
Powered by Du Plessis’ 185, the second-highest score in an ODI by a South African after Gary Kirsten’s 188 not out against the United Arab Emirates in Rawalpindi during the 1996 World Cup, the home side put up a towering 367/5.
Sri Lanka, kept in the game by Tharanga’s 119, his first century in 29 ODIs, responded with 327 – their highest total in the 13 innings in all formats they have played on tour.
Du Plessis, who was in commanding form for his second century in three innings, faced 141 balls and hit 16 fours and three sixes to earn his eighth ton in the format.
His effort was the joint 11th highest innings in the 3833 ODIs played in cricket history.
AB de Villiers scored 64, his 50th 50 in the format, and shared 137 with Du Plessis – a stand that followed the 100 Quinton de Kock and Du Plessis put on for the second wicket.
Both partnerships rattled onto the scoreboard at better than a run-a-ball, while the 74 runs that Du Plessis and Farhaan Behardien shared for the fifth wicket gushed at 12.68 to the over.
De Villiers was bowled round his legs by left-arm spinner Sachith Pathirana with a delivery that did not turn but hit middle stump as he advanced down the pitch and wide of the stumps to attempt a sweep.
Du Plessis was caught in the deep with the fifth-last ball of the innings, which he tried to launch down the ground for six.
For the first 16 overs of the Lankans’ reply it seemed as if the crowd would see that rare thing: victory for the visitors.
Niroshan Dickwella and Tharanga batted with the kind of hustling, bustling confidence that would have made their team significantly more competitive had it been seen more often on this tour.
But, with the first ball of the 17th over, Niroshan Dickwella top-edged a heave to a bouncer from Dwaine Pretorius to Farhaan Behardien at deep square leg. Dickwella was gone for 58 and the opening stand was ended at 139.
Kusal Mendis helped Tharanga add 64, but Mendis’ gloved pull off Wayne Parnell, and the subsequent catch by Quinton de Kock, was the first of three wickets that fell for 25 runs in six overs.
Another was that of Tharanga, who slapped a wide delivery from Parnell to JP Duminy at backward point. He faced 90 balls and hit 11 fours and seven sixes.
Sandun Weerakkody kept the Lankans’ hopes alive with a gutsy 58, his maiden half-century in his second ODI, most of them scored in a stand of 79 with Asela Gunaratne.
But Weerakkody’s ill-judged swipe to the last ball of Imran Tahir’s spell in the 45th over, a full toss that looped off the top edge into the covers, where Parnell swooped to take a well-judged catch, killed them off.
Parnell added the wickets of Lahiru Madushanka and Lahiru Sandakan to finish with 4/58.