JOHANNESBURG - A typically flamboyant half century by Quinton de Kock, backed up another top class performance from South Africa’s bowlers, saw the tourists claim a 2-0 lead in the five-match One-Day International series against Sri Lanka yesterday.
“The Test series was disappointing, but these conditions are more in favour of both teams, although towards the end the wicket did get a little bit ‘tired’ after almost 200 overs of cricket,” said South African captain Faf du Plessis after yesterday's four wicket victory. “I’m very pleased with how we are chasing the game. We are very positive and putting their spinners under pressure.”
Angelo Mathews again chose to bat first after winning the toss and Sri Lanka again handed the initiative to the South Africans early on with Lungi Ngidi picking up two wickets in the second over of the innings. Unlike last Sunday when they slumped to 36/5 in the ninth over, the Sri Lankan top order showed some back bone, with Niroshan Dickwella leading the way with an aggressive innings of 69.
Together with Mathews (79) - hamstrung in the latter overs with marshalling the lower order - Dickwella shared an important partnership of 67 for the fifth wicket, but his dismissal in the 26th over was probably the difference between a target of 290 and what Sri Lanka eventually set the Proteas.
While Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada were again good with the new ball, the major improvement in South Africa’s bowling came from the two young seam bowling all-rounders; Andile Phehlukwayo and Wiaan Mulder. That duo conceded 64 runs, Phehlukwayo’s finishing with 3/45 in nine overs while Mulder claimed 1/26 from seven. Ngidi finished with 3/50.
While left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi failed to pick up a wicket, he kept the Sri Lankan batsmen in check. He conceded 21 runs in his first two overs, but still finished with figures of 0/43 in a full 10-over ration. Du Plessis described his side’s bowling as “exceptional.”
“There were times when Sri Lanka looked like getting back into the game, but our bowling was spot on. Towards the middle it was looking like Sri Lanka should get 280-300, but we kept pulling it back. The plans were good and so was the execution,” said Du Plessis.
This man was at his destructive-best in the second One-Day International against Sr Lanka. 💥@QuinnyDeKock69’s brilliant 87 (13 fours, 1 six) proved crucial in South Africa taking a 2-0 lead in the series and earned him the Man of the Match award. #ProteaFire #SLvSA 🇿🇦🏏 pic.twitter.com/XE7TNN9fjO— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) August 1, 2018
South Africa’s openers benefited from dreadful fielding from the Sri Lankans early on in the run chase. Hashim Amla was dropped on four in the fourth over and Quinton de Kock was on 18 in the sixth when he was dropped. In addition the Sri Lankan ground fielding was akin to that of a C-grade club team and as a result what could have been a tricky chase, was given a flying start as the Proteas' opening pair shared a stand of 91 in just 14 overs.
Amla looked the best he has all tour, utilising the sweep effectively against the spinners to make a run-a-ball 43. De Kock, meanwhile, was outstanding, playing quality drives, a delicious lofted shot over midwicket for six and a cheeky late paddle to fine leg off Akila Dananjaya in an innings of 87.
“(The pitches) are spinning a lot less in the one-dayers which helps us a lot more,” said De Kock. “This tour has been very difficult, there’s been excessive spin. This surface played the same the whole way, it remained a good wicket the whole night, which was good for the game.”
Du Plessis (49) and JP Duminy (32) again looked in good touch but there will be more concerns about the form of Aiden Markram. In six innings across the Tests and first two ODIs, Markram has a highest score of 19, and has looked all at sea against the home team’s spinners. The third ODI is on Sunday.