CHAMPIONS TROPHY: Amla, Tahir crush SL by 96 runs
South Africa came through some tricky moments to see off Sri Lanka by 96 runs in their Champions Trophy opener at The Oval. Hashim Amla stroked a calm 103, but some disciplined Sri Lanka bowling kept the Proteas to 299-6.
Niroshan Dickwella then made 41 from 33 balls to make the chase seem possible. But after he fell, Sri Lanka lost eight wickets for 98 runs to be bowled out for 203, with leg-spinner Imran Tahir taking 4-27.
World number ones South Africa are favourites to progress from Group B, alongside India, who play Pakistan at Egbaston on Sunday.
On a sluggish surface, South Africa failed to fully capitalise on Amla’s 25th ODI ton. Opting to bowl first, Sri Lanka adapted well to the conditions, restricting South Africa to only six fours and one six in the first 20 overs.
The pressure they created could have earned more rewards, but Lasith Malinga failed to get a hand on a Faf du Plessis top edge when he was on only eight.
Du Plessis made 75 in a second-wicket stand of 145 with Amla, who worked the ball off his pads and guided it behind square on the off side with the minimum of fuss. However, the Proteas were unable to fully accelerate and Du Plessis’ edge behind from the impressive pace bowling of Nuwan Pradeep was the first of four wickets to fall for 43 runs.
It took the late hitting of JP Duminy, whose 20-ball 38 included 10 runs from the final two balls of the innings, to set Sri Lanka a target of 300. That mark seemed well within reach when the energetic Dickwella was swatting the ball all around The Oval.
The left-hander played whips and drives to some ordinary South Africa pace bowling until he sliced Morne Morkel to third man. His exit allowed South Africa to squeeze through the brilliant fielding of AB de Villiers and excellent bowling of Tahir.
First De Villiers leapt to remove Kusal Mendis with a one-handed catch at mid-on, then, in Tahir’s first over, the South Africa skipper produced a stunning swoop and throw to run out Dinesh Chandimal. Three balls later, Tahir trapped Chamara Kapugedara lbw.
Upul Tharanga, captaining Sri Lanka in place of the injured Angelo Mathews, remained, but when he was caught at deep cover off Tahir for 57, the contest was effectively over.
Tahir underlined South Africa’s dominance with a direct hit from mid-on to run out Suranga Lakmal, and it was his bowling that completed the Proteas’ eighth successive win against Sri Lanka. (BBC Sport)