Sri Lanka 142
South Africa 146/6
South Africa’s chase meandered, almost halted, and threatened to careen off a cliff, especially when Wanindu Hasaranga added a T20I hat-trick to his ODI hat-trick. Taking the game to the limit, trusting their finisher, and hoping Sri Lanka’s inexperience would show paid off in the end.
Lahiru Kumara misjudged his length twice, putting two balls in David Miller’s arc, and the batsman cleared his front leg, brought his enormous back lift down, and whacked Kumara for two sixes that nearly cleared the stands. With two balls remaining, he got a single off the following ball, tying the game for South Africa. South Africa was home with a ball to spare as Kagiso Rabada, who had fielded well, edged the following ball for four.
The win keeps South Africa in contention for a semi-final berth, while Sri Lanka now needs a number of other outcomes to go their way to remain in contention.
Earlier, Sri Lanka had struggled against spin in the middle overs, not for the first time. Sri Lanka crumbled and finished on 142 runs, with the last wicket falling off the last delivery. Even though their bowlers did a wonderful job of making it look like a decent total, it never felt enough.
It wasn’t exactly a stellar T20 performance. But it was good enough for this Sri Lankan team, which was riddled with flaws. In the powerplay, Pathum Nissanka only made 18 of his first 20 deliveries. The top-ranked T20I bowler in the world demonstrated why he is so highly regarded. In his first over, Sri Lanka was hoping to get him out safely. Then he grabbed wickets in each of his final three overs, even when hitters weren’t attempting to be particularly aggressive. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Avishka Fernando came down the track searching for singles but were unable to reach the pitch and spooned catches back at Shamsi. Shamsi got Hasaranga to hole out too long-on for his third scalp. He finished with the best stats in the game, 3 for 17.
Hasaranga grabbed three wickets in a row, as though he didn’t want to be done by Shamsi, the only bowler above him in the T20I rankings. The first of them was, without a doubt, the most crucial. Hasaranga’s googly wasn’t his finest, but he fooled the in-form Aiden Markram and knocked back his off stump.
Kasigo Rabada got a single in the first ball of the final over in a match where the pendulum swung all the way to the end. Then Miller hit two back-to-back sixes off pacer Lahiri Kumura to put the game out of reach for his team. As the Proteas maintained their good run to remain afloat in the competition, Rabada struck the winning runs — a boundary to the third man fence — to complete the chase.