Anrich Nortje celebrates dismissing Priyamal Perera for a golden duck on his Sri Lanka debut in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

PORT ELIZABETH – Tail-ender Isuru Udana hit a rapid half-century to lift a poor Sri Lankan batting performance in the fourth one-day international against South Africa at St George’s Park on Wednesday.

Batting at number nine, Udana hit 78 in a Sri Lankan total of 189.

Sri Lanka, trailing 3-0 in the five-match series, faced humiliation when Udana walked in with his team reeling at 97/7, after being sent in on what looked a good batting pitch.

But Udana, who has hit two centuries in first-class cricket, struck the ball cleanly in a 57-ball innings which included seven fours and four sixes.

Udana was particularly severe on fast bowler Anrich Nortje, one of the main destroyers in the early part of the innings.

Nortje took 3/19 in six overs in his first spell, but the first three balls of his second spell were all hit for six by Udana, who plundered 37 runs off Nortje’s last two overs.

The last wicket yielded 58 runs, 55 of them to Udana. There were three extras, while last man Kasun Rajitha made nought not out.