By BV Swagath
Sri Lanka won the third and final T20I at Hambantota by 6 wickets on Tuesday to avoid a 0-3 cleansweep. For a change, it was a slightly high-scoring game in the 3-match series with Sri Lanka chasing down a target of 164 with 11 balls to spare.
Batting first after winning the toss, South Africa lost a wicket off the very first ball of the match to Nuwan Kulasekara. It was slow going after that at 45 in 7.2 overs when the second wicket fell down to Ajantha Mendis. After that, the Proteas consolidated beautifully thanks to a 112-run stand for the third wicket between Skipper Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy.
Du Plessis scored 85 from 65 balls with 10 fours and 3 sixes before getting out in the final over. Duminy remained unbeaten with 51 from 34 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes. Variety spinner Sachithra Senanayake bowled well for the hosts with 4-0-20-0.
Sri Lanka chasing 164 got off to an ideal start from the experienced duo of Jayawardene and Dilshan. Mahela Jayawardene scored a breezy 33 (from 16 balls with 7 fours) while taking the homeside to 67 in just 5.5 overs. Despite losing three more partners after Mahela, Dilshan kept his cool to steer the Lankans home with an unbeaten 74 (from 51 balls with 9 fours and 2 sixes). Dilshan got able support from Thisara Perera who scored 25* from 11 balls with 3 fours and a six. For the Proteas, rookie all-rounder David Wiese bowled his medium pace effectively to take 2 for 24 in 4 overs.
Dilshan got the Man of the Match award for his knock of 74. JP Duminy was adjudged as the Player of the Series. South Africa won the 3-match T20I Series 2-1.