South Africa gave a wonderful start to their Champions Trophy campaign with the simple 96-runs win over Sri Lanka at the Kennington Oval, London.
Hashim Amla’s record breaking 25th ODI century and leg-spinner Imran Tahir’s superlative bowling performance ensured a positive start to the tournament for the Proteas.
Sri Lanka, after putting up a decent bowling performance, ended up faltering during the chase and let the game slip away completely.
Stand in skipper Upul Tharanga, who filled for an injured Angelo Mathews’ place, put South Africa to bat first after winning the toss on Saturday morning. His decision was perfectly backed up by his bowlers who restricted the opposition to a functional total of 299/6.
Hashim Amla (103 from 115 balls) was the rock of the South African innings. After losing his opening partner Quinton de Kock cheaply, Amla forged a sold 2nd wicket stand comprising of 145 runs with Faf du Plessis (75 from 70 balls) to put South Africa in a solid position. However, the Proteas middle order failed to capitalise on the advantage provided by Amla and Du Plessis, as the Sri Lankan bowlers pulled up the strings and did not allow the likes of JP Duminy and David Miller get going in the final overs of the first innings.
Sri Lanka, in response, got off to a wonderful start. Openers Niroshan Dickwella and skipper Tharanga added an attacking 69 for the opening wicket to set the tone for the chase. However, things began sliding downwards for the battings side since the opening stand broke.
Dickwella’s departure in the 9th over turned out to be the decisive one, as the Proteas bowling attack led by leg-spinner Tahir began making quick inroads in the batting order. Thus, derailing the entire chasing process.
Eventually, Kusal Perera, who came in at No. 6, stood as the lone fighter while witnessing his teammates walk back to the pavilion one after another.
Imran Tahir’s spell of 4/27 played a key role in the Lankan downfall. His performance managed to overshadow Hashim Amla’s record-breaking knock.
Here is what he had to say:
“Been working really hard. Really enjoying. Hope it carries on through the tournament. I think [AB] knew the situation, I was always ready to bowl. The openers batted really well, but we stuck to our plans and came back strongly. I wasn’t expecting any spin, watching the England-Bangladesh game the other day, but it helped my variations a little. Very happy with how it came out today. I’ve had a tough last one week, thanks for all the people who supported me.”