South Africa completed a second consecutive series whitewash in ODIs by beating Sri Lanka by 88 runs at Centurion on Friday. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock were the prime architects of the win with both registering centuries and helping South Africa to 384 in the allotted fifty overs.
Amla was back to his best as he made his fourth 150+ score in ODIs. He started out in ominous fashion and finished with a slew of aggressive sixes in the death overs. De Kock was equally good and scored 109 runs.
With a mammoth 385 to chase, Sri Lanka lost the plot by losing early wickets despite Nirosha Dickwella's Jayasuriya-style knock. Chris Morris was the wrecker in chief for South Africa taking a career best 4/31. Sri Lanka ended up on 296/8 despite some lower order heroics from Asela Gunaratne.
Brief Scores: South Africa 384/6 in 50 overs (Amla 154, de Kock 109) beat Sri Lanka 296/8 in 50 overs (Gunaratne 114, Pathirana 56, Morris 4/31)
#5 De Kock fires 12th ODI ton
Quinton de Kock has become an unstoppable force these days and the diminutive Proteas wicket-keeper once again compiled a brilliant hundred, his 12th in One Day Internationals.
De Kock played second fiddle to a rampant Amla early on but soon overtook his partner as he sent balls flying to the fence. Back to back fours off Lahiru Kumara to the leg side in the 8th over set De Kock in his groove and from there he just dismissed the Sri Lankan attack.
The wicketkeeper-batsman smashed his fourth ton at Centurion in just his sixth innings, underlining his dominance at the ground. He was eventually dismissed for 109 by Suranga Lakmal.
#4 Hashim Amla slams yet another 150
Hashim Amla gives an impression of a cricket purist with all textbook strokes. But the South African opener is a brutal striker of the cricket ball and often his tendency to stick to ground shots is associated with a low strike rate.
This is a completely wrong notion though as Amla is as quick as anybody else in the shorter formats of the game. He is also capable of playing the big shots as he proved today by smashing five sixes. This was Amla's fourth ODI score of 150 or more.
Amla had an 187 run opening partnership with Quinton de Kock and scored his 5th century at the Centurion ground, where he averages a superb 76.90. Amla carried on even after the likes of De Kock, Du Plessis and De Villiers were dismissed and was dismissed in the penultimate over of the game.
#3 South Africa have most 350+ scores in ODIs
By scoring 384 runs in the match, South Africa now possess the world record for most number of 350+ scores in ODI cricket, 24.
India and South Africa were level at 23 after South Africa posted 367 in the fourth ODI at Newlands courtesy Faf du Plessis' 185. But the 384 scored today helped South Africa overtake India.
384 is also the highest score for South Africa against Sri Lanka in ODIs, beating the previous best of 367 scored three days earlier at the Newlands stadium in Cape Town.
#2 Morris compounds opening bowler conundrum
South Africa seemed to have fixated on Rabada and one of Parnell or Pretorius to open the attack for them in the Champions Trophy. However, having won the series already, they sought to try Chris Morris along with Rabada and the experiment turned out to be a success.
While Rabada was taken to the cleaners by Nirosha Dickwella, Morris was tight and pacy and nipped out two wickets in a five-over spell that went for just 20. Morris had the dangerous Upul Tharanga slicing an uppish drive to third man for 7. He later returned to dismiss Sachith Pathirana, who compiled a half-century and Jeffrey Vandersay.
He then removed Kusal Mendis, who tried to whack him down the ground only to hit it straight to AB de Villiers stationed at mid-off. With Morris as well putting up his hand for partnering Rabada at the top, South Africa will use the New Zealand ODIs to come to a final decision.
#1 Asela Gunaratne shows his batting skills
Playing with a free spirit reaps rich benefits. Asela Gunaratne found that out today when he walked in with Sri Lanka all but out of the game at 70/4. He had the license to go after the bowling with an Everest of 385 to climb.
Gunaratne played second fiddle to Pathirana initially, who made a maiden half-century himself. Once settled in, Gunaratne smacked Tahir for consecutive boundaries in the 31st over and was soon latching onto some ordinary bowling from the Proteas. He then turned his attention to getting as close to the target as possible and hit part-time Behardien for four consecutive fours.
A couple of sixes to the leg side off Phehlukwayo and Rabada took him close to a maiden hundred, which he eventually scaled. With the Champions Trophy approaching, Sri Lanka seem to have found at least one answer to their all-rounder problems in Gunaratne, who put up a fine display with bat and ball in this series.