Quinton de Kock continued his blazing run of sparkling form with his 14th career century to lay the foundation for a solid batting performance by the Standard Bank Proteas top and middle order in the third Momentum One-Day International at Kingsmead on Sunday.
The Proteas won in the end by 72 runs to clinch the series 3-0 with two matches still to be played but Sri Lanka were badly caught on the wrong end of a DLS re-calculation that was hardly fair.
In a match that was badly disrupted by rain the De Kock-inspired Proteas set a target of 332 to which Sri Lanka replied with 75/2 after 16 overs before play was disrupted.
When play finally resumed Sri Lanka were set a near impossible revised DLS target of 193 in 24 overs, requiring them to score 118 off the remaining 48 balls. What made matters even worse was that they had lost Kusal Perera with a hamstring injury while fielding.
Tabraiz Shamsi got rid of Oshada Fernando in the first over after the resumption and although Kusal Mendis hit two sixes in Shamsi’s next over he then fell to Imran Tahir. The Proteas final power play also started at this stage so they could crucially have an extra fielder on the boundary.
It reached a stage when they required an impossible 75 off the last 12 balls, even if every ball was hit for six.
In the Proteas innings after the early departure of his opening partner, Reeza Hendricks, De Kock was involved in stands of 97 with Faf du Plessis, and 66 with Rassie van der Dussen before being the third man out for 121 (108 balls, 16 fours and 2 sixes).
David Miller then continued the good work in partnerships of 44 with Van der Dussen, 53 with Dwaine Pretorius and finally an unbroken 47 off 20 balls with Andile Phehlukwayo of which the latter contributed 38 off 17 balls with five fours and a six.
In spite of De Kock’s fine innings – his third century against Sri Lanka and his second at Kingsmead – the Proteas looked as though they might finish shy of 300 but Phehlukwayo and Miller changed all that with their late onslaught that took the Proteas to a very competitive total of 331/5 with 99 of those runs coming in the final power play for the loss of just one wicket.
The other main contributor to the Proteas total was Van der Dussen who made exactly 50 (67 balls, 3 fours) but the most significant factor was that six of the seven batsmen made 30 or more.
De Kock completed 1 000 ODI runs against Sri Lanka as did Du Plessis. The only other two Proteas batsmen to go past this mark are Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla.
The recalled Isuru Udana was the pick of the Sri Lankan seamers both in terms of strike and economy rates, taking 2/50 in 8 overs while the debutant spinner, Kamindu Mendis took 1/45 in 10 well controlled overs.
The fourth match takes place at St. George’s Park on Wednesday (13h00 start).