Even five dropped catches from South Africa could not take the hosts over the line
South Africa 163 for 5 (Markram 48, Hasaranga 2-23) beat Sri Lanka 135 for 6 (Chandimal 66*, Maharaj 1-19) by 28 runs
Poor reviewing from Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka were understandably eager to get de Kock out as quickly and cheaply as possible and reviewed the fourth ball of the match. Chameera hit de Kock on the knee roll of the front pad as he missed a flick but his appeal was turned down. Dasun Shanaka reviewed with three seconds left on the clock and replays showed the ball was pitched well outside leg stump and de Kock was not in any danger of being dismissed. Until the next ball. Chameera delivered a yorker outside off, de Kock tried to dig it out, the bat hit the ground and there seemed to be an edge. Chandimal appealed, Chameera appealed and Shanaka, who had wasted a review the ball before, was unsure and chose not to go upstairs. Replays showed de Kock had hit the ground but also edged and would have been out if Shanaka reviewed. de Kock was on 4 at the time and went on to score 36 off 32 before slog-sweeping Hasaranga to deep midwicket.
In a squad packed with openers, and with the injured captain Temba Bavuma expected to be fit for the T20 World Cup, competition for places in the top three is fierce but Markram has made sure he should be in there. His improvements against spin have been evident since South Africa toured Pakistan earlier this year and were on display again in this match. Markram navigated four tricky overs in the middle section of the innings before unleashing a slog sweep off Dananjaya to breach the boundary for the first time. He went on to play a cheeky reverse-paddle that beat the wicketkeeper for four and hit a straight six off a slower ball to give South Africa their most profitable over – 17 runs – in the 18th over, off Karunaratne. Markram was dismissed in the penultimate over but played a big part in South Africa’s last five-over blitz. Markram is South Africa’s top scorer in T20Is this year, so far, and fourth overall.
Living dangerously in the powerplay
Chandimal, on his return to the side, approached the chase with immediate urgency and survived several risks in the first six overs. There was the single off Fortuin when Chandimal tapped the ball into the covers and ran, and made it to the non-striker’s end just in time. There was the leading edge off Rabada that three fielders converged for at deep point but Markram could not hold on. And there was the pull off Rabada that came off the bottom edge of the bat and fell short of Nortje at mid-on. But the first time Avishka flirted with danger, he was dismissed. He played a Rabada offcutter to mid-on and called for the single, Nortje swooped in and got a direct hit at the bowler’s end, along with Avishka not reaching his bat out, and found him short of the crease. Sri Lanka finished the powerplay on 34 for 1, well short of South Africa’s 47 without loss. Chandimal went on to score 50 off 40 balls and finish unbeaten.
Things keep getting better for Maharaj, who made his T20I debut as captain and then took a wicket with his first ball. He struck Bhanuka Rajapaksa with a delivery that turned into him from outside off and had reason to celebrate when Rajapaksa was given out on-field. Rajapaksa reviewed but replays showed the ball was clipping leg stump on umpire’s call. Rajapaksa racked up a third duck in his last three innings – two in the ODIs and one here – and Maharaj became the fourth South African, after Andre Nel, Alfonso Thomas and Rory Kleinveldt to take a wicket with his first ball in T20Is. Maharaj is also only the second captain after Paras Khadka to take a wicket with the first ball on his captaincy debut.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent