It took a while, but South Africa got something stuck in their throat again. After playing so convincingly in the first two Twenty20s, it took just one wayward over from Wayne Parnell to mess everything up for the Proteas.
Parnell conceded 21 runs in the 18th over as Thisara Perera came to the party for Sri Lanka once more and helped the hosts avoid a whitewash as they claimed a six-wicket win. The win ensured that Sri Lanka remain at the top of the ICC T20 rankings.
Winning the toss and batting first, South Africa got off to their usual shaky start with openers Henry Davids and Quinton de Kock dismissed cheaply.
Cricbuzz has the full scorecard.
South Africa 163-3 (20 overs)
1. Davids lbw b Nuwan Kulasekara 0 (1)
2. Quinton de Kock lbw b Ajanta Mendis 16 (19)
3. Faf du Plessis (c) b Suranga Lakmal 85 (65)
4. Jean-Paul Duminy not out 51 (34)
5. AB de Villiers 1 (1)
Du Plessis and Duminy then combined for a 112-run partnership to help set the foundation that would ultimately guide South Africa to 163-3 in their 20 overs. It was the first time du Plessis passed 25 in seven games (in both ODIs and T20s) and his third T20I fifty in 11 games. Duminy continued his impressive run of form by notching up his third 50 in eight games (in both ODIs and T20s).
Only 2 teams have won a T20I series 3-0 Ireland beat Kenya Feb 2012 Bangladesh beat Ireland July 2012 Can South Africa do it tonight? #SLvSA— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) August 6, 2013
It looked like the Proteas were in a good position to complete a clean sweep, and they would have been only the third side to win a T20 series. However, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Perera had other ideas.
Despite picking up a few cheap wickets with Kushal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews all departing for low scores, Dilshan smacked an unbeaten 74 off 51 while Thisara Perera chipped in with 25 off 11—including three thundering sixes to seal the deal for Sri Lanka.
South Africa's bowling and fielding let them down quite drastically—the bowling toward the end and the fielding all through the game.
Dilshan's exploits earned him a Man of the Match award, and the former skipper was deservedly pleased with his efforts.
Dilshan said at the post-match presentation:
It was not an easy target to chase. We needed to take some chances in the first six overs. Mahela got us off to a good start. I then continued with the momentum. I wanted to disturb the bowler's rhythm. That is the reason I played the Dilscoop in the first over. I did not panic when the rate increased. I knew one good over would be enough for us to win.