Perera Leads Sri Lanka To Five-Wicket Victory
Sri Lanka 304-5 (Dilshan 87, Perera 69no) beat
South Africa 299-7 (de Villiers 96) by 5 wickets
Fourth One-Day International, Kimberley
Sri Lanka capitalised on a series of uncharacteristic slips from South Africa to win the fourth One-Day International in Kimberley by five wickets.
Although AB de Villiers hit an entertaining 96 as his side posted 299 for seven, they allowed Sri Lanka back into the game as their batting failed to kick on and they missed chances in the field as Sri Lanka closed on 304 for five.
Half-centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan (87), Dinesh Chandimal (59) and Tissera Perera (69 not out) underpinned Sri Lanka's run chase but dropped catches and fumbles in the field made their task easier than it should have been.
De Villiers was in splendid form earlier in the day, facing just 76 balls and making batting look easy but South Africa found their projected score rapidly decrease as two wickets apiece from Perera and Rangana Herath on a slowing pitch pegged them back.
A welcome return to form for Graeme Smith (68) and some enterprising batting at the top of the order from Alviro Petersen, who hit 37, went in vain.
Perera completed a fine game by smashing 69 in just 44 balls including three fours and five sixes as he took on the spinners to good effect.
He was dismissed off a no ball by Wayne Parnell and Morne Morkel dropped Angelo Mathews, who was unbeaten on 21, to hand the initiative conclusively to the tourists.
They had put themselves into a strong position thanks to some aggressive strokes from Dilshan, who put on 83 with Kumar Sangakkara (32) after Upul Tharanga fell for six.
Sangakkara was brilliantly caught by Petersen, jumping high on the boundary and keeping his balance, after he had lofted Robin Peterson towards midwicket but the runs continued to flow.
Dilshan and Chandimal added 68 together and although Lahiru Thirimanne only made 13, he scored his runs quickly and his dismissal opened the door for Perera to blast off and take Sri Lanka into a winning position.
Chandimal fell with 54 more runs required to win but Sri Lanka were not to be denied.
Had South Africa batted with the same intensity as Sri Lanka managed in the closing stages of their innings, the game might have been over at the halfway stage.
They raced away thanks to the efforts of Smith, Petersen and de Villiers - who cracked three sixes and eight fours - but were unable to accelerate once their big guns were dismissed.
Colin Ingram (1) and Francois du Plessis (5) were dismissed by Nuwan Kulasekara and Herath respectively leaving JP Duminy (36) and Parnell (21) charged with resurrecting the innings.
They found the going too tough although Peterson did manage to hit an unbeaten 23 which almost took them to the 300-mark.
In the event, with Perera in super form at the death, they needed far more.
The final match in the series is in Johannesburg on 22nd January.
© Cricket World 2012