SRI LANKA beat the Blue Label Proteas by six wickets in the final T20 International match at Hambantota on Tuesday to earn themselves an important consolation victory.
Although the result does not affect the Proteas 2-1 series win, it does keep the Sri Lankans at the top of the ICC Twenty20 rankings.
Ironically, the Sri Lankans achieved their victory in the first match in which the Proteas top order fired thanks to a partnership of 112 in 12.1 overs for the third wicket between captain Faf du Plessis and the consistent JP Duminy. Du Plessis made a career best 85 off 65 balls (10 fours and 3 sixes) while Duminy contributed another half-century (51 not out off 34 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes).
It was the highest partnership ever against Sri Lanka in Twenty20 cricket and Duminy achieved a milestone of sorts by completing a century of sixes in the T20 format at all levels.
The Proteas finished on 163/3 but they then found themselves on the receiving end of a merciless attack by Tillekaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene. The two veterans put on 67 for the first wicket off only 35 balls as the Proteas three frontline seamers all came under the cosh.
The two new caps for this series, Imran Tahir and David Wiese, managed to pull it back, taking 3/44 between them in 8 overs but the damage had already been done and Sri Lanka coasted home with 11 balls to spare and 6 wickets in hand.
Dilshan batted through the innings to finish on 74 off 51 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes while his partner at the end, Thisara Perera, contributed an equally aggressive 25 off 11 balls with 3 fours and 1 six.
Dilshan was named Man of the Match while the Man of the Series award went to Duminy who made two half-centuries and also contributed important wickets in the first match.