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03-Sep-2021 02:35:00 GMT
SL v SA - 1st ODI, Colombo

Fernando, bowlers help Sri Lanka take series lead

Sri Lanka 300 for 9 (Avishka 118, Asalanka 72, Maharaj 2-30) beat South Africa 286 for 6 (Markram 96, van der Dussen 59, Dananjaya 2-65) by 14 runs

Colombo: Brilliant bowling at death from Sri Lanka helped them restrict the Proteas on 286/6, clinching a 14-run victory in the first ODI in Colombo. Earlier, a stunning century from Avishka Fernando had powered them to 300/9.

The win has given Sri Lanka 10 points in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League standings and they are now eighth on the table.

Chasing 301, South Africa got off to a good start with their openers Janneman Malan and Aiden Markram providing a solid foundation. But the visitors lost Malan's wicket – trapped in front for 23 by Wanindu Hasaranga – with their score reading 49/1 after 10 overs.

But Markram remained unperturbed as he kept batting with grit. He brought up his third ODI fifty with a straight six, reaching the mark in 49 balls. The Sri Lanka bowlers toiled in vain but Markram and Temba Bavuma took full advantage of the attack. Unfortunately, Bavuma had to retire hurt after the 28th over on 38 as he was hit on the thumb by a throw and was taken off the field for further assessment.

Praveen Jayawickrama finally was able to get the elusive breakthrough for the hosts when he dismissed Markram for 96, breaking the century stand for the second wicket.

However, the visitors continued in the same vein with Rassie van der Dussen and Kyle Verreynne sharing a solid 43-run stand.

Verreynne fell soon after the Proteas went past the 200-run mark, trapped by Akila Dananjaya for 12.

Van der Dussen refused to budge and patiently stitched a solid half-century. He fell to Dananjaya with South Africa still needing 41 runs in the last 4.1 overs.

It should have been easy enough for South Africa with plenty of wickets in hand but the host bowlers were persistent, cutting off the flow of runs and choking the scoring rate at death.

Only 14 runs came off in the next three overs. In the end, 27 runs in the final over was too much for the Proteas and they could only manage to score 286/6 in 50 overs; Sri Lanka winning by 14 runs.

Earlier, the hosts won the toss and elected to bat. Avishka Fernando and Minod Bhanuka opened the batting for the hosts while Kagiso Rabada, with the shiny new ball in hand, bowled the first over.

The Sri Lanka openers dealt with the South Africa attack with confidence and laid a solid foundation for the side. To keep the Sri Lanka batters in check, Bavuma introduced spinner Keshav Maharaj in the seventh over. By the end of the Powerplay, the hosts had posted 50/0 on the scoreboard.

A couple of overs later, the introduction of part-time bowler, Markram, worked in South Africa's favour as he broke the solid opening stand. Bhanuka looked to slog-sweep Markram's delivery that drifted inward but the ball went past the gap between bat and pad to disturb the back of off stump and that brought Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the No.3 batter, to the crease.

Rajapaksa's stay at the crease lasted only three balls as he holed out for a duck, becoming Maharaj's first victim courtesy of a brilliant catch from Verreynne at deep midwicket.

Fernando then joined forces with Dhananjaya de Silva, and steadied the proceedings. After the 22nd over, with Sri Lanka on 105/2, rain interrupted play for a brief period.

In de Silva, Fernando found his second partner to share a fifty-run stand with. Soon, Fernando also reached the 50-run mark, scoring his first ODI half-century against South Africa.

But two overs later, their 79-run third-wicket stand came to an end when Klaasen had de Sliva stumped for 44 off Maharaj's bowling. The Sri Lanka batsman went for the slog-sweep but was beaten by the spinner's turning delivery, and Klaasen with swift hands dislodging the bails on time.

Then came in Charith Asalanka, who became Fernando's third partner to share a half-century stand with. En route to their solid 97-run stand, Fernando reached the triple-digit mark, reaching his third ODI hundred from 106 balls.

His sensational knock ended on 118 – which included 10 fours and two sixes – when Shamsi had him caught at backward point. But that didn't stop Sri Lanka from reaching 300.

Asalanka made sure that the runs were flowing in as he starred with an impressive 62-ball 72. In the last five overs, Sri Lanka lost five wickets, including two run-outs on the last two balls of the innings.

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