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A career-best innings by Faf du Plessis trumped a thrilling century by Upul Tharanga as south Africa beat Sri Lanka by 40 runs in the fourth one-day international against south Africa at Newlands on Tuesday.

Du Plessis hit 185, only three short of the south African team ODI record, as south Africa piled up 367 for five.

It seemed as though Sri Lanka, who had been outplayed in the first three matches, would be on the end of the anthore crushing defeat.

But Sri Lanka captain Tharanga hit a magnificent 119 off 90 balls and led his team’s most spirited showing of the series. They were in with a chance of winning until a late slide in which they lost their last six wickets for 20 runs in 4.3 overs to be bowled out for 327.

“Du Plessis played an exceptional knock,” said south African captain Ab de Villiers. “Tharanga also played a fantastic knock but there wasn’t a lot of panics. I felt comfortable with the variety we had in our bowling.”

Tharanga and fellow left-hander Niroshan Dickwella thrashed 100 runs in the first 10 overs on the way to a first wicket partnership of 139 off 98 balls before Dickwella was caught on the midwicket boundary off Dwaine Pretorius for 58 off 47 deliveries.

Kusal Mendis (29) helped Tharanga add 64 for the second wicket as Sri Lanka stayed comfortably ahead of the required run-rate until Wayne dismissed both batsmen.

Tharanga, who was caught at backward point, hit 11 fours and seven sixes and left the field to a standing ovation.

“we needed to get a good start and it was a much better batting performance,” said Tharanga. “unfortunately we lost too many wickets later.”

Du Plessis made 185 runs off 141 balls and hit 16 fours and three sixes

South Africa piled up 367 runs for five and Sri Lanka managed 327 in reply and lost by 40 runs.

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