Reeza Hendricks scored an 89-ball 102 to record the fastest century by an ODI debutant on Sunday against Sri Lanka. Photo: REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

KANDY – Reeza Hendricks was ecstatic after scoring a century on his one-day international debut but admitted afterwards it was difficult breaking through into this South African side.

Hendricks scored an 89-ball 102 as South Africa sealed a 78-run victory over Sri Lanka in Kandy on Sunday and thereby secured an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series. 

He also admitted he was surprised when told it was the fastest century by an ODI debutant. For Hendricks, however, it was all about contributing to the team and making the most of a rare opportunity. 

“I was very happy to make my debut, and most importantly, contribute for my team,” he said. 

“It's quite difficult to break through into this South African side, so I was quite fortunate and I managed to score some runs.”

Hendricks’s century also managed to prompt a smile from an injured Faf du Plessis. 

The South Africa captain hurt his shoulder in the field, landing badly after attempting a dive, but he was delighted with how the youngsters were staking a claim for a regular spot in the XI.

"It was an excellent batting performance backed up by a quality bowling display, Lungi Ngidi picking up four wickets. To see someone play like that on debut was remarkable, and that's the great thing about our batting line-up,” said Du Plessis. 

“We have guys putting their hands up every game, and putting match-winning performances. It's about giving guys opportunities. We will try and do the same in the next two matches as well.”

Importantly for South Africa, their form in the ODIs – a stunning turnaround after a poor 2-0 loss in the Test series – had people back home excited about the team’s chances at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

As for Sri Lanka, there was an understandable disappointment. Angelo Mathews’s side have lost all three ODIs so far rather comprehensively, and once again, the Sri Lanka captain fronted up to try and explain the loss. 

“Pretty disappointed with the way we started with the ball,” said Mathews. “The last ten overs didn't go to plan – 360 was a bit too high on this track. We didn't execute our plans. We want to look forward and get better as a team. 

“There are a lot of positives in Dhananjaya (de Silva) and Lahiru Kumara, they showed some fight. But Reeza played superbly and JP (Duminy) finished well. 

“We need to try and think out of the box if we are to win a game. As a team, we need to play on good wickets and win. We’ve still got two games to go and if we can win those, it would be ideal.”

The fourth ODI will be played at the same venue – the Pallekele International Stadium in Kandy – on Wednesday.  

African News Agency (ANA)

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