Gqeberha – South Africa A registered a five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka A in Kandy to win the 50-over series 2-1 on Thursday.
The stage was set for an enthralling finish to the first series of the A tour between South Africa and Sri Lanka.
The series was level at 1-1 heading into Thursday's unofficial one-day international fixture with the tourists having won the first match and the hosts having bounced back in the second match, to leave the series to be decided in the third and last game.
Despite the loss on Tuesday, there were notable performances from the tourists as Gerald Coetzee and Tristan Stubbs put their hands up to make a game out of the match following a disastrous batting display from Shukri Conrad’s young batters.
On Thursday, Coetzee picked up where he left off on Tuesday, but this time around with ball in hand.
The recently Test capped fast bowler returned figures of 5/48 in his 8.3 overs, ripping through the Sri Lanka A’s top-order.
Coetzee started off his spell with the big wicket of Nishan Madushka, who scored a century on Tuesday to secure a series levelling win for the home team.
A short-pitched delivery from Coetzee forced Madushka into an attempted guide to the fine-leg boundary, but the ball grabbed an edge off his bat and wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne did the rest behind the stumps.
Coetzee's new-ball partner, Lizaad Williams, accounted for opening batter Lasith Croospulle for a duck to leave the home side on 3/7 inside the first six overs.
The Sri Lankans struggled to build partnerships as Tony de Zorzi’s bowling attack took wickets at regular intervals.
The home team did not put together even one fifty-plus partnership.
All they could manage was a low total of 172 runs all out with Sahan Arachchige (63) the sole fighter in the batting order with a second successive fifty.
In reply, Conrad sent out a new opening pair, this time around it was captain De Zorzi and Verreynne at the top of the order.
De Zorzi was undone by left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka for a golden duck and it looked all gloomy for the South Africans.
In a short space of time, the tourists found themselves on 48/3 with Madushanka the chief destroyer once again, as he did on Tuesday when he claimed four dismissals.
Two wickets later, Stubbs was joined by Senuran Muthusamy with 72 runs to win and five wickets in hand.
The pair made light work and applied themselves throughout their 74-run partnership.
Despite Muthusamy scoring 45 runs in the partnership, Stubbs finished with a top-score of 58 off 93 which included four boundaries.
The South Africans got the job done with 14.1 overs remaining in the match to win the series 2-1.
Throughout the series, Conrad stuck to his word of giving players opportunities as he made two changes from the XI that played on Tuesday.
Warriors batter Sinethemba Qeshile and North West Dragons all-rounder Muthusamy were given a go on Thursday in place of Dewald Brevis and Jordan Hermann.
The South Africans will surely take the series victory as a confidence booster ahead of the two four-day games that starts on Monday.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka A: 172/10 (Arachchige 63, Bandara 36, Coetzee 5/48, Muthusamy 2/42)
South Africa A: 175/5 (Stubbs 58*, Muthusamy 45*, Madushanka 3/34, Wellalage 2/44)