Sri Lanka beat SA by 76 runs

Super-sub Malinga Bandara took four wickets on Tuesday to bowl Sri Lanka to a 76-run win over South Africa and into a place opposite Australia in the tri-series limited-overs cricket finals.

Bandara came into the match in the 20th over and turned the match in Sri Lanka’s favour when he claimed four wickets between the 27th and 35th overs, snuffing out South Africa’s reply to Sri Lanka’s total of 257 for nine.

He first dismissed captain Graeme Smith for 67, removing the innings’ anchor and leaving it adrift, and then rapidly removed Justin Kemp (0), Ashwell Prince (22) and Shaun Pollock (15) to hurry South Africa out for 181 in the 44th over.

Chaminda Vaas helped soften up the South Africans when he took the wickets of Boeta Dippenaar and Herschelle Gibbs in his fourth over, the seventh of the innings, while Muttiah Muralitharan, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sanath Jayasuriya supported Bandara with a wicket each.

The match, at picturesque Bellerive Oval, was the last of the tri-series round robin and was a sudden-death clash between teams competing for the second finals berth.

South Africa entered the match with 12 points, Sri Lanka with nine, and victory boosted the Sri Lankans into the best-of-three finals that begin at Adelaide on Friday.

Earlier, Marvan Atapattu won the toss, opened the batting and top-scored with 80 as Sri Lanka set South Africa a moderate target of 258 to win the match.

Atapattu’s promotion to open the batting on Tuesday achieved part of its objective of speeding Sri Lanka’s scoring and stiffening their middle order. He reached his highest score of the series and formed lengthy partnerships of 53 with Sanath Jayasuriya (25) for the first wicket and 123 with Kumar Sangakkara for the second.

Sangakkara made 62 to continue his outstanding run of form in a series in which he has now scored 314 runs with three half-centuries at an average of 39,25.

But the pace of Sri Lanka’s scoring, a tempo largely imposed by Atapattu and Sangakkara, was too slow and though they preserved wickets through the first half of the innings, they imposed too much pressure on a middle order that again failed to fire.

Atapattu took 122 balls to make his 80 runs and Sangakkara 77 balls for his 62, but both hit only five boundaries and the pace of the innings was moderate from the outset, preventing Sri Lanka from reaching a substantial score in good batting conditions.

Jayasuriya looked typically dangerous, hitting two fours and a six and taking his 25 runs from 26 balls, but his innings ended when he chopped a ball from Shaun Pollock on to his stumps in the ninth over.

Sangakkara was out in the 36th over when Sri Lanka were at 175, and Atapattu exactly two overs later at 190 at the start of a spell in which seven wickets fell for 67 runs in 12 overs.

Only Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made 30, prospered after Atapattu’s departure. He was the last man out in the final over, having enlarged his innings with two fours and a six.

South Africa fielded their strongest available bowling line-up on Tuesday and performed accordingly.
Pollock took one for 35 from 10 accurate overs, Johan van der Wath took two for 41, Charl Langeveldt two for 47 and Andrew Hall three for 50.—Sapa-AP

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