David Miller and Lonwabo Tsotsobe joined forces to drag South Africa back into their one-day series in Sri Lanka.
After Miller – last year’s Twenty20 specialist for Yorkshire – had smashed an unbeaten 85 off 72 balls to give the tourists something to bowl at, Tsotsobe ripped the Sri Lankan top order apart, recording figures of 4-22 as the Proteas bowled their hosts out for just 167 to win the third ODI by 56 runs.
Only Thisara Perera, who blasted Robin Peterson for five sixes and a four off the 33rd over, provided any real resistance, but he could not prevent South Africa from reducing their deficit to 2-1 with 40 balls to spare.
Captain AB de Villiers opted to bat after winning the toss but his side got off to a dreadful start as they slumped to 53-3, Lasith Malinga accounting for Alviro Petersen and Perera dismissing both Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy inside the first 16 overs.
De Villiers’s 47 helped to steady the ship before he was caught behind off Ajantha Mendis (3-35), but Miller took up the challenge.
The 24-year-old smashed five sixes and four fours, scoring 35 off the last 10 balls as South Africa ended their innings on 223-7.
Sri Lanka’s reply got off to a shaky start when opener Tillakaratne Dilshan departed for six with just 14 on the board.
They slipped to 14-2 when Kumar Sangakkara went for a duck.
Upul Tharanga’s then edged Tsotsobe to first slip, and it took a dogged stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal to put the Sri Lankans back on track.
However, Peterson broke the 55-run partnership when he clean bowled Jayawardene for 24, and when Ryan McLaren nicked Chandimal to wicketkeeper De Kock on 29 and Angelo Perera and Angelo Matthews soon followed, Sri Lanka were 93-7.
But Perera gave his side hope with a brutal assault, hitting Petersen for five sixes and a four from the 33rd over to take the score to 129 for seven.
But once he had holed out for 65 off Farhaan Behardian (3-19) it was effectively game over.