CAPE TOWN: A career-best innings of 185 from Faf du Plessis led South Africa to a 40-run victory over Sri Lanka in the fourth one-day international at Newlands yesterday, putting it on the brink of claiming the No. 1 ranking in ODI cricket. Du Plessis’ phenomenal knock helped the home side to 367 for five, the highest ODI total in the ground’s history, after it had won the toss and elected to bat first. In reply, Sri Lanka produced its best batting performance of an otherwise disappointing tour, with Upul Tharanga scoring its first century, but that was still not enough as it was bowled out for 327. With South Africa taking a 4-0 lead in the fivematch series, it will have the opportunity to rise above Australia in the ICC rankings and claim top spot by winning the final encounter at Centurion on Friday. Although Du Plessis fell three runs short of Gary Kirsten’s record for the highest score by a South African batsman in ODI cricket, his 185 was the highest by any batsman on South African soil, surpassing Quinton de Kock’s 178 against Australia at Centurion last September.
Du Plessis put on century stands with De Kock (55) and AB de Villiers (64) as he went past his previous top score of 133 not out, and then ramped up the onslaught in the final 10 overs, when South Africa added 106. He was eventually out in the final over when he was caught on the boundary, attempting a six that would have taken him past Kirsten’s record. Sri Lanka made an aggressive start to its response, with Tharanga putting on 139 for the first wicket with Niroshan Dickwella in just 16 overs.
Although the stand was broken when Dwaine Pretorius had Dickwella (58) caught in the deep, Tharanga went on to reach his 14th ODI century – and first since July 2013 – and added a further 64 with Kusal Mendis. Sri Lanka’s chase faltered when Mendis (29) and Tharanga (119) fell in quick succession to Wayne Parnell. Although Sandun Weerakkody (58) hit his maiden half-century to keep the tourists in the hunt, he was dismissed by Imran Tahir before Parnell wrapped up the tail to finish with figures of 4-58. — AP