By Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka went 1-0 up in the three match ODI series against South Africa with a hard fought 14 run win at RPS last night, but their win could be marred by a slow over rate fine and reduction of the points in the World Cup qualifiers as they nearly took four hours to complete 50 overs.
Sri Lanka have a terrible slow over rate problem and there was little urgency yesterday as Dasun Shanaka’s side went about things at their own pace. Akila Dananjaya was the biggest culprit moving about things like a European on a holiday in down south.
Despite the short coming, it was a fine effort by the batsmen to post a total of 300 and although South Africa threatened to chase it down, they fell short as the scoreboard pressure took to them.
There’s no better sight in Sri Lankan cricket at the moment than Avishka Fernando in full flow. Of course, there is the exceptional talent of Kusal Mendis, but currently he is ‘doing time’ for his excesses. Avishka was at his awesome best posting his third ODI hundred. Usually, when a team scores 300 at RPS, it’s good night Vienna. No team has chased down successfully a target in excess of 300 at this ground although it has hosted more than 130 ODIs.
Pushed out of the side for failing a fitness test in January, Avishka has been a breath of fresh air since making a comeback two months ago. Mickey Arthur’s fitness regime seems to be working as the opening batsman put up a fine show against a formidable attack. It took him 74 balls to reach his half-century but he stepped up the gas after reaching the milestone as the next 50 runs came off just 31 balls.
Avishka had set the stage for Sri Lanka to accelerate in the death overs and the last ten overs produced 90 runs.
Avishka added 57 runs for the first wicket with Minod Bhanuka (27) as the wicketkeeper was preferred over former captain Dinesh Chandimal. The centurion then added 79 runs for the third wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva (44) who looked comfortable at his new role of number four.
The 97 runs stand between Avishka and Charith Asalanka that came off 71 balls proved to be the turning point. Asalanka made 72 that came off 62 balls.
Aiden Markram gave South African a fine start smashing 96 off 90 balls. His dismissal slowed things up a bit. Rassie van der Dussen played the spin bowlers superbly with some fine reverse sweeps and sweeps. He made 59 and was dismissed trying to keep pace with the climbing required run rate.