Sri Lanka chose to field after winning the toss. The Lankan bowling attack led by Lasith Malinga, who returned to ODIs after 19 months, was brilliant in the morning. They kept Proteas under four runs per over in the first powerplay, 32/0.
Nuwan Pradeep brought the first breakthrough by sending back Quinton de Kock for 42-ball 23. Faf du Plessis also started slowly like Hashim Amla. After being set, these two opened their shoulders and put Sri Lanka under pressure. These two added 145.
du Plessis scored his 28th ODI fifty in 52 balls as he made 75 runs off 70 deliveries with 6 fours.
Amla, who reached fifty in 56 balls after slow start, started to build up his innings. At one stage, he and South Africa couldn’t get runs at ease. There were dot balls being bowled by the Lankan Lions and the boundaries dried up.
But that didn’t stop Amla score his 25th ODI hundred in 151 innings which is the fastest in the history. He couldn’t stay any longer. He left scoring 103 runs from 115 balls hitting only 5 fours and 2 sixes.
When the centurion got run out, David Miller (18) was dismissed too and that left Proteas in trouble. JP Duminy and Chris Morris made a 45-run partnership. Morris scored 20 off 19 balls.
In the end, Duminy’s cameo 20-ball 38* including 5 fours and a six helped South Africa post 299/6 in 50 overs, just a run shy of 300. Pradeep was Sri Lanka’s most successful bowler with two wickets for 54 runs.
In reply, Sri Lankan openers Niroshan Dickwella and captain Upul Tharanga went after the bowling. The opening partnership added 69 runs in just 8.2 overs. Dickwella played an entertaining 33-ball 41 hitting 5 fours and a six.
Since the first wicket’s dismissal, South Africa pulled things back and started to find rhythm. The Lankan batting line-up started to collapse when Imran Tahir came into the attack.
Tharanga hit his 32nd ODI half-century. He made 57 runs off 69 balls with 6 fours. The other batsmen struggled to score runs as the asking rate kept rising.
The wickets kept falling. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 203 runs in 41.3 overs. The Proteas earned a victory of 96 runs in their first game. Sri Lanka have been dropped down to number seven in ODI rankings again.
For South Africa, it was their magicman Tahir who produced a match-winning performance. He took 4 wickets for 27 runs in 8.3 overs. Chris Morris scalped two wickets. Kusal Perera remained unbeaten scoring 44 off 66 with 5 fours.
Watch below one handed catch by AB de Villiers
South Africa 299/6 in 50 overs (Amla 103, du Plessis 75; Pradeep 2/54, Lakmal 1/51)
Sri Lanka 203 allout in 41.3 overs (Tharanga 57, K Perera 44*; Tahir 4/27, Morris 2/32)
Result: South Africa win by 96 runs
Man of the Match: Imran Tahir 4/27
-Ruffin, Correspondent, bdcrictime.com