It took all manner of milestones for the Proteas to secure their second series win over Sri Lanka this summer, but if ever a result was predictable, it was that the visitors would fold once again.
Playing on Pink Day (the drive for breast cancer) and on Faf du Plessis’s 100th one-day international (ODI), the hosts won a third successive game by seven wickets with 18 overs to spare to secure an insurmountable lead in the five-game series against Graham Ford’s men.
The win, South Africa’s 12th successive victory at home, was a record in a match in which the visitors failed to reach 200 for the third time in a row.
The game also marked a good return for AB de Villiers in pink as he top-scored with 60 not out (61 balls, five fours) in South Africa’s chase of the Sri Lankans’ paltry 163 all out.
Earlier, Sri Lanka – who have struggled to locate their stomach for a fight with each passing game on tour – had lost their last six wickets for just 46 runs after getting off to a slow but rock-steady start to the game’s first innings, having been asked to bat first.
The innings was steady in the sense that the wickets weren’t tumbling with the alarming regularity (at first, anyway) as they had in the previous two ODIs, where they were dismissed for 181 and 186.
But, as it turned out, it was a false dawn as they were bowled out for even less.
Two things made it a marginally less than ignominious effort: opener Niroshan Dickwella’s patient and well-crafted innings of 74, and when play was delayed for an hour because a swarm of bees invaded the pitch.
Dickwella’s effort, which came from 80 balls and was decorated with seven boundaries, showed his countrymen what could be done with a bit of patience and application until he got out caught behind by Quinton de Kock swatting at a short one from Dwaine Pretorius.
And had it not been for the one-hour delay, the day-night game may have run perilously close to finishing while the light was still up.
For all that lack of application by the visitors, the hosts did what was expected of them – put away what was put in front of them.
Led by Imran Tahir (who else?), who got the sparkling figures of 2/21 off 9.2 overs, the bowling was miserly.
Pretorius was another to have an impressive outing, snaring 3/19 off seven, with Kagiso Rabada and Andile Phehlukwayo chipping in with two wickets apiece.
While the catching wasn’t as good as one has come to expect, Du Plessis’s full-stretch effort at slip to dismiss Lahiru Madushanka off Pretorius almost made up for those earlier blemishes.
Meanwhile, Titans chief executive Jacques Faul says the domestic franchises are still unsure as to how Cricket SA’s (CSA) new T20 competition is going to affect them.
CSA yesterday announced the launch of a new hoped-for money-spinning competition called the #T20 Global League.
Said competition – scheduled to commence in “the last quarter of 2017” and pencilled in for November to December – will have eight participating franchises.
The governing body has already sold the competition to a reportedly encouraging International Cricket Council and set a deadline of March 3 for tenders.
But Faul said the domestic franchises – although they know about it – weren’t entirely up to speed with how it would work or affect them.