The Proteas put aside all the misleading claims that their fortunes are at an all-time low as they hammered Sri Lanka by nine wickets with 35 balls to spare in Colombo on Sunday to clinch their third consecutive T20 series win.
In their final dress rehearsal before next month’s T20 World Cup in similar conditions in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa took an unbeatable 2-0 lead, winning both games comfortably. They will now go into the showpiece event with both a settled, confident team and a game-plan that is working.
Sri Lanka had won the toss and batted first, but paceman Anrich Nortje ended a fast and accurate second over by removing Dinesh Chandimal, mishitting a pull to mid-on, for just 5.
Although Kusal Perera (30 off 25) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who was particularly severe on ace fast bowler Kagiso Rabada in his 20 off 13 balls, swung lustily to add 28 for the second wicket in three overs, the Proteas kept taking wickets, with the spinners leading the way.
It was the part-timer, Aiden Markram, who made the breakthrough with Rajapaksa’s wicket, before Tabraiz Shamsi took wickets in successive overs to reduce Sri Lanka to 71 for four in the 10th over.
Markram then trapped Kusal lbw and the rest of the batting folded as Sri Lanka were bundled out for just 103, their lowest completed score against the Proteas.
Shamsi returned to his best after missing the mark in the first T20, taking three for 20 in four superb overs, while Markram did a brilliant job in taking three for 21 in four overs that included a maiden.
Orthodox left-armer Bjorn Fortuin returned the magnificent figures of two for 12 in four overs, while Keshav Maharaj chipped in with a wicket and was tidy as ever.
Quinton de Kock then killed off any aspirations Sri Lanka may have had of snatching a comeback win and dismissed all claims that he will be under-prepared for the World Cup as he cruised to 58 not out off 48 balls to steer South Africa to one of their most comprehensive victories ever in T20 Internationals.
De Kock collected seven fours as he unveiled the full array of his wonderful strokeplay, and his skill and placement was on full display as well.
South Africa’s charge to victory was delayed by rain after nine overs, with their score on 65 for one, but Aiden Markram (21* off 19) helped De Kock seal their biggest ever victory over Sri Lanka batting second. Reeza Hendricks scored a run-a-ball 18 adding 62 for the first wicket with De Kock.