Cometh the hero: Reeza Hendricks celebrates his ODI ton on debut. Picture: REUTERS
Cometh the hero: Reeza Hendricks celebrates his ODI ton on debut. Picture: REUTERS

Arise Quinton de Kock‚ SA’s captain. Of the many remarkable things that happened in Kandy on Sunday, nothing could top that. Though Reeza Hendricks’s century on debut was not far behind.

De Kock’s elevation happened in the 10th over of Sri Lanka’s innings after Faf du Plessis left the field with a jarred shoulder. Team management confirmed the unthought and the unthinkable: the supposedly nonthinking De Kock was the stand-in skipper.

Maybe that view should be reviewed — which De Kock did only nine balls into his tenure when Perera fiddled down the leg side to Mulder and Nigel Llong decided the edge had not been found. Snicko said it had and De Kock had his first strike.

In the 42nd over Dhananjaya de Silva threw his bat at a delivery from Andile Phehlukwayo‚ and Llong again said no after De Kock took‚ low down‚ what he was convinced was a catch.

Again the captain went upstairs. And again he was right.

Like he had been eight balls earlier when Tabraiz Shamsi was adamant he had Suranga Lakmal leg-before and implored De Kock to involve the third umpire. De Kock shook his head at the excited spinner — and replays showed the ball would have missed leg stump.

About the only thing captain Quinton got wrong was not to call for the catch when Lakmal skied a delivery from Lungi Ngidi‚ who also did not make a sound as he advanced towards where the ball was descending.

Both De Kock and Ngidi kept their eye firmly on that prize and a collision seemed certain. Happily Ngidi is 23cm taller than De Kock‚ whose gloves thudded into the fast bowler’s chest as he took the catch.

"He ran into a brick wall there‚" Ngidi said in his television interview with Shaun Pollock‚ who had surmised "there was only one winner" in that contest.

And with that SA had won the third one-day international by 78 runs to clinch the five-game series three-zip.

Six members of Sunday’s team — who scored 363/7 and dismissed the home side for 285 in 45.2 overs — were in the squad who could not bat their way out of a stale samoosa in the Test series. The difference was the pitch‚ which was nothing like the sundried dahl on which the Tests were played.

"It seemed pretty flat but you don’t want to think like that as a bowler‚" Ngidi said. "It was similar to a South African wicket."

That‚ strange as it may seem‚ was part of Sri Lanka’s plan.

"We want to play on good wickets and try to win rather than play on dusty wickets‚" Angelo Mathews said. "We need to think out of the box if we want to win away as well."

Aside from preparing a pitch that favoured their opponents‚ another reason the Sri Lankans lost on Sunday was Hendricks — who scored the fastest century among all 2,453 men who have been debutants in an ODI.

Hendricks reached his hundred off 88 balls of magnificent mayhem in which he drove sublimely and swept outrageously. He replaced Aiden Markram‚ who scored three and nought in the first two games of the series‚ in the only change to SA’s XI.

Hashim Amla‚ who made 19 and 43 in the first two matches‚ and David Miller‚ who scored 10 and three‚ came good with 59 and 51. JP Duminy did not face that challenge having scored an unbeaten 53 in the first game. But that did not stop him from producing his highest score in 46 ODI innings.

His 92 runs‚ which flew off 70 balls and was studded with eight fours and four sixes, was further evidence that he has a lot left to give.

Sri Lanka were never in the hunt in their reply‚ but Ngidi bowled with pace and purpose for his 4/57.

The creative Phehlukwayo‚ a confident trickster armed and dangerous with knuckleballs‚ slow bouncers and back-of-the-handers‚ took 3/74.