COLOMBO: Spinner Lakshan Sandakan starred in Sri Lanka’s hard fought three-wicket win over South Africa in the only Twenty20 international after bowling out the visitors for their lowest total in the game’s shortest format.
Electing to bat in the only T20 match of the tour, South Africa were bowled out for 98, a total the hosts surpassed with four overs to spare.
The Proteas, who lost the two-Test series 2-0 and then came back to clinch the one-day internationals 3-2, were two runs less than their previous low score of 100 against Pakistan in 2013.
Dinesh Chandimal, who returned from his ban for breaching the spirit of the game, remained unbeaten on 36 to guide the team home in a tricky chase.
Chandimal’s 53-run third-wicket partnership with Dhananjaya de Silva, who made 31, was key in Sri Lanka reaching their target in 16 overs.
“I realised it was not a T20 wicket and just rotated strike. I just played like Test cricket,” Chandimal said after the win.
“It’s really good to come back after (the) ODI series. The boys showed a lot of character and attitude and finished it on a winning note. It’s good for the Asia Cup (upcoming 50-over tournament in September),” Chandimal said of his side.
But it was Sandakan’s bowling figures of 3-19 with his left-arm wrist spin that set up the win. He was ably supported by fellow spinners de Silva and Akila Dananjaya who took two wickets each.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock top-scored with 20 before being run out but the rest of the South African batting fell flat in 16.4 overs.
Sri Lankan batsmen also made heavy weather of their 99-run target as the South African bowlers led by paceman Kagiso Rabada made the hosts work hard for their win.
Rabada, fellow paceman Junior Dala and spinner Tabraiz Shamsi took two wickets each.
From a comfortable 59-2 the hosts slipped to 88-7, but Chandimal kept his calm during his 33-ball stay that was laced with 3 fours and 1 six.
Chandimal, 28, was banned for two Tests and four ODIs after refusing to take the field against West Indies following ball-tampering allegations in June.
“We will take a lot of positives from this tour… I think coming here and after losing 2-0 in Test matches, we had to change our mindset and fortunate enough we put our best foot forward in the ODIs,” South Africa’s T20 skipper Jean-Paul Duminy said.
“We have a few weeks off to rethink and get better. End of September, we have a series against Zimbabwe, hopefully we do well there,” Duminy added.
Sri Lanka now host England for a full series in October-November while South Africa travel to Australia for three ODI matches and one T20 during the same period.