A sparkling knock of 102 runs by Kumar Sangakkara enabled Sri Lanka to win the fifth and final One Day International against South Africa which has earned them some respect in the series . The tons by Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers went in vein as their bowlers were unable to protect the target.
South Africa smashed 312 runs for the loss of four wickets at the close of 50th over and set a challenging target for the rival team. The Lankan Lions achieved the target by scoring 314 runs on the fifth ball of the last over.
The match took place at New Wanderer Stadium, Johannesburg, on January 22, 2012.
Kumar Sangakkara was declared ‘Player of the match’ for his match winning century.
Earlier, Sri Lankan Captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, won the toss and offered the batting to South Africa while preferring to chase.
The hosts had a shocking start as their opener Alviro Petersen was caught in the first slip by Angelo Mathews off Lasith Malinga as the score board moved to 10 runs. Faf du Plessis joined in with Graeme Smith and both kept the score board moving while the later opened up by dispatching the ball out of fence quite frequently. They took the score to 70 runs when Plessis lost his wicket at 24 which paved the way for de Villiers to demonstrate his batting skills along with the well settled Smith.
The duo steadied the innings and accelerated later on as de Villiers became more aggressive of the two. Smith achieved his ninth century after a lapse of about 16 months on the last ball of the 40th over. The last ODI ton was scored by him against England at Centurion on September 27, 2009 when he thrashed 141 runs. They contributed exorbitant partnership of 186 runs for the third wicket when Smith was gone after scoring 125 runs.
AB de Villiers punished the rival bowlers at his will and hammered his century on the last ball of the 41st over by dispatching a four. He remained unbeaten with 125 runs off 98 balls which comprised four skied sixes and 10 fours at the end of the 50th over as the home side scored 312 runs after losing just four wickets.
Malinga was the most successful bowler with two wickets and Sachithra Senanayake claimed one wicket.
Sri Lankan openers Upul Tharanga and Dilshan laid solid foundations by attacking the bowlers and scored 72 runs in 10 overs. The earlier batsman was gone after scoring 46 runs when the experienced Sangakkara appeared on the scene and joined with Dilshan.
Sangakkara added 47 runs for the second wicket with Dilshan and 56 with Dinesh Chandimal before they were gone on 41 and 20 runs respectively.
Thirimanne produced an authoritative stand of exact 100 runs with Sangakkara who added another century to his credit by scoring 102 runs off 97 balls with the help of 10 fours. The fourth wicket fell at 275 runs in 44.2 overs and it looked like easy chase for the visitors when the Proteas took over.
Thirimanne held one end with command as the wickets kept on sliding at the other end and he was the eighth batsman to go back to the pavilion after scoring 69 runs at the total of 308 runs in 49.3 overs. The things were gloomy for the visitors as Senanayake lofted Jean-Paul Dumniy for a six over mid wicket and won the match for his team.
Lonwabe Tsotsobe, Duminy, Wayne Parnell and Robin Peterson claimed two wickets each.
The Lankan Lions won the nail biting match by two wickets with one ball to spare and earned some glory though losing the series 2-3.