By BV Swagath
South Africa bounced back after two defeats to win the Third ODI at Pallekele by 56 runs. The Proteas have kept the 5-match series alive with this much needed victory on Friday to reduce the Sri Lankan lead to 2-1.
Batting first after winning the toss, South Africa struggled to 100 for 5 by the 30th over. Skipper AB de Villiers worked hard to score 47 from 72 balls and the visitors were heading towards an ordinary total. But some serious carnage in the final overs from David Miller saw the Proteas post a competitive total of 223 for 7. Miller blasted his way to 85* from 72 balls with 4 fours and 5 sixes. Ajantha Mendis was the most successful bowler for the hosts taking 3 for 35.
South Africa made inroads with the new balls reducing Lanka to 16 for 3 by the 8th over. After a 55-run partnership for the 4th wicket, Sri Lanka faced a collapse again to slip to 93 for 7 by the 31st over. The Proteas by now had done enough to guarantee their victory. There was a slight scare though from Thisara Perera who took Robin Peterson for 35 runs (5 sixes, a four and a wide) to what is the second most expensive over in ODI history. Perera scored a valiant 65 (from 49 balls with 5 fours and 5 sixes) before the hosts crashed to 167 all out in 43.2 overs.
Left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe did most of the damage taking 4 for 22 in 7 overs. Farhaan Behardien with his part-time medium pacers picked up 3 for 19 while JP Duminy bowled miserly giving away only 23 runs in 9.2 overs. The Man of the Match award went to David Miller for his heroic knock.