Leg-spinner Imran Tahir and former captain Hashim Amla excelled in South Africa’s 96 run win over Sri Lanka in their Champions Trophy opener at The Oval on Saturday.
South Africa posted 299 for six thanks to Amla’s 103 and Francois Du Plessis’s 75 and then restricted Sri Lanka to 203 as Tahir took four wickets.
Sri Lanka got off to a good start reaching 87 for one at the end of the tenth over, but the introduction of Tahir in the 18th over turned the game firmly in South Africa’s favour.
Tahir took two wickets in the over, accounting for Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedera, to break the back of the Sri Lankan middle-order.
Before that, it was the Amla show, as the South African opener scored his 25th ODI Hundred. He started slowly with Quinton De Kock, as the openers looked to play out the opening period without taking many risks.
But Amla got together with Du Plessis to put up a 144 run partnership which proved to be the difference.
Du Plessis was dropped by Malinga when he was batting on 8, and Du Plessis capitalised on the opportunity.
Amla hit just 5 fours and 2 sixes, which shows the nature of his innings. He was run out, and his dismissal led to bit of a rut as South Africa struggled to find the boundaries. De Villiers was dismissed early — scoring just 4 runs. JP Duminy ended unbeaten on 38 off 20 balls, which included a four and a six of the last two deliveries. The Proteas finished their innings on 299.
Sri Lanka started off really well, with openers making the maximum use of the powerplay.
Dickwella scored 5 fours and a six, scoring 41 off just 33 balls. When he was dismissed, Sri Lanka were well ahead in the game, with the score 69 in just the ninth over. But the middle-order just collapsed under Tahir’s brilliance and failed to provide any kind of support to Tharanga, who played the anchor at the other end.
Once he departed, also accounted for by Tahir, Sri Lanka never really had any chance to provide any kind of fight.
Kusal Perera provided some resistance, remaining unbeaten on 44, but at no stage did he look like mounting any stunning comeback.
Sri Lanka were also missing their captain and key player Angelo Matthews who is expected to return for the next game, his return will provide the Lankan lions with some much needed stability and experience in the middle-order.
Tharanga might also face penalty for the slow over rate, and if he is banned, it will be a big blow for the Asian side.
Sri Lanka next face India on June 8, while South Africa will take on Pakistan on June 7.