An all-round performance from Tillakaratne Dilshan helped Sri Lanka thrash South Africa by 87 runs in the second ODI at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday and level the three-match series 1-1.
Hashim Amla (101) struck his second century of the series but his effort was in vain as eight of the Proteas batsmen failed to cross the double digit mark. Amla added 75 runs with skipper AB de Villiers (29) and stitched a 53-run partnership with Dale Steyn (23) late on but that was it for the touring party.
Pacer Lasith Malinga was the wrecker-in-chief as he picked up four wickets and provided early jolts to the Africans, from which they never recovered. Dilshan finished with three wickets and sent de Villiers, David Miller (4) and Vernon Philander (1) back to the hut.
Earlier, Dilshan anchored the Lankan innings and formed a 62-run partnership with Lahiru Thirimanne, after the Islanders lost early wickets.
Prasanna Jayawardene and skipper Angelo Mathews made 71 runs for the fifth wicket and helped Lanka get past the 200-run mark. Ashan Priyanjan (15-ball 25) played a cameo at the end as the hosts crossed 250 in 50 overs.
"When I come here, everyone trusts that I will do well," Dilshan said. "Even today before I went out to bat, my captain to told me, 'You'll get runs today as well'. I enjoy playing cricket everywhere, but here I get a good feeling that I'll be getting runs. The more we play here, the better I'll be able to do. I've already asked my captain to request more matches here."
There was a stark contrast in South Africa's performance in the second ODI and they never looked the team, which defeated the Islanders in the first match. Captain de Villiers admitted that they have been inconsistent in the series and pointed out that they lost the match in the last 10 overs.
"It's never nice to win one and then lose one - you look like an inconsistent team," de Villiers said. "We should have got closer. I don't like us to lose not being in the game the last 10 or so overs."
The Proteas skipper is expecting a better performance from his team in the series decider at Hambantota but he needs to rethink his team's composition as Steyn is doubtful for the third ODI. He picked up an injury in his right thumb, and although there is no fracture, he is facing difficulties while bowling.
"You can't plan for injuries in a game," the South Africa skipper said. "It happens once in a while. I don't think there is anything wrong with our bowling options but we will obviously have a look at our team."