Pathum Nissanka’s 58-ball 72 and Wanindu Hasaranga’s hat-trick go in vain as Sri Lanka lose their second game

South Africa’s chase veered, almost stalled, and threatened to careen off a cliff – particularly when Wanindu Hasaranga claimed a T20I hat-trick to go with the ODI one he took on debut. But, in the end, taking the game deep, trusting their finisher, and hoping Sri Lanka’s inexperience would show, ended up working for them.
With 14 required off the last five balls, Lahiru Kumara missed his length twice, put two balls in David Miller‘s arc, and the batter cleared his front leg, brought that big back lift down, and smoked Kumara waaay over deep midwicket, for two sixes that very nearly cleared the stands. He got a single off the next ball, meaning South Africa were tied, with two balls remaining. Kagiso Rabada, who had fielded brilliantly, then edged the next ball for four, and South Africa were home with a ball to spare.

The victory means South Africa stay in the running for a semi-final spot, while Sri Lanka find themselves needing several other results to go their way if they are to be in contention.

Earlier, Sri Lanka had stumbled through the middle overs – not for the first time – against spin. Tabraiz Shamsi took 3 for 17, as Sri Lanka slumped from 61 for 1 to 110 for 6, the run rate slowing substantially as those wickets fell. They ended with a total of 142, the last wicket falling off the last delivery. It never really seemed enough, even if their bowlers did well to make it seem a good total.
Nissanka shows his T20 smarts
It wasn’t necessarily an exemplary T20 knock. But for this very flawed Sri Lanka side, it was good enough. Pathum Nissanka made only 18 from his first 20 deliveries, in the powerplay. But he stuck around, surviving a close lbw chance off Keshav Maharaj through the middle overs, to accelerate later in the innings, hitting three fours and a six off the last nine deliveries he raced to finish with 72 off 58.

Shamsi bosses it yet again
The world’s top-ranked T20I bowler showed why he is so highly rated. He gave away only a single run in his first over, which suggested Sri Lanka were looking just to play him out safely. But then he got wickets in each of his remaining three overs, even when batters weren’t trying to be especially aggressive against him. He got two caught-and-bowleds – Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Avishka Fernando coming down the track looking for singles, but failing to get to the pitch, and spooning catches right back at Shamsi. For his third scalp, Shamsi got Hasaranga to hole out to long-on. He finished with the game’s best figures of 3 for 17.

Hasaranga hat-tricks Sri Lanka back into the game
As if totally unwilling to be done by Shamsi – the only bowler above him on the T20I rankings – Hasaranga got three wickets of his own, all in a row. The first of these was probably the most important wicket. It wasn’t Hasaranga’s best googly, but he deceived the in-form Aiden Markram nonetheless, and knocked back his off stump. That wicket had come off the last ball of the 15th over, and then when he next came back to the bowling crease, in the 18th, Hasaranga got two wickets first up. He had Bavuma caught at deep midwicket off a genuine half-tracker – Bavuma not managing to clear the fielder, or miss him. Next ball, Dwaine Pretorius holed out to long-on, and South Africa seemed in serious trouble, with six wickets down and 31 still needed from 16 balls.
The big finish
Miller just bided his time, and waited for Sri Lanka’s weakest death bowler. Rabada had thankfully struck a six off Dushmantha Chameera in the penultimate over, to keep South Africa in touch. Rabada had the strike at the start of the last over too, but he got a single first ball, and when Miller got to the crease, he was just intent on hitting sixes, and Kumara bowled him the two perfect balls to smash. Miller finished with 23 not out off 13.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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