SRI LANKA finally broke their losing run in One-Day Internationals against the Standard Bank Proteas when they won a rain-disrupted fourth game in the current five-match series by 3 runs on the D/L method at Pallekele on Wednesday evening.
The Sri Lankans gave a much improved performance on what they had previously managed in the series. They finally produced a solid opening partnership from Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga, after they had lost the toss, of 61 in 11.3 overs and this laid the foundation for their total of 306/7 in their allotted 39 overs which was finished in spectacular style by Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka with their stand of 109 for the seventh wicket in just over 11 overs.
With play having been shortened several times by weather interruptions, first to 45 overs, then 43 and finally 39, the Proteas were set a target of 308.
The other key to the Sri Lankan victory was a much improved fielding display which was highlighted by a direct hit run out by Shanaka to get rid of JP Duminy and an acrobatic catch at short midwicket by Dhananjaya de Silva to account for Wiaan Mulder.
The Proteas made a fine start to their chase when new captain Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla took 21 off the first two overs before a further rain delay saw them chasing a revised target of 191 in 21 overs. In fact, they only got back on the field with two minutes to spare to stop the game being washed out.
The Proteas looked to have the chase well in hand as they kept their run rate in double figures for the first half of the chase but they then lost wickets at regular intervals to keep the home side in contention.
There were good bowling contributions at the death by Thisara Perera and Suranga Lakmal that eventually got the visitors home.
Shanaka, who had not played an ODI for Sri Lanka for the best part of two years, was named Man of the Match for his all-round contribution.
The Proteas take a winning 3-1 series lead into the final match, also a Day/Night encounter, at Colombo on Sunday.