Hashim Amla scored a composed century to take South Africa to a formidable 304 for 5 before Ryan McLaren took two wickets in three balls to restrict Sri Lanka to 229 all out in 40.3 overs in the first One Day International on Sunday (July 6).
Amla struck eight boundaries and a six en route to a 130-ball 109 after AB de Villiers, the South Africa captain, elected to bat first at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Amla first put on 58 for the opening wicket with Quinton de Kock to get South Africa off to a steady start, after which it lost two quick wickets. De Kock was the first to fall, when he was castled by Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, for 27. Ajantha Mendis then had Jacques Kallis trapped in front with a carrom ball to reduce South Africa to 60 for 2.
Amla and de Villiers then got together for a 141-run third wicket stand to take their team to a position of strength.
Amla was gifted a second chance, with Thisara Perera dropping him at long-on, on 49, but otherwise looked to be in good touch. He went on to complete his 13th ODI century, before Mendis had him trapped leg before.
De Villiers, too, was let off on 17, and went on to score a 70-ball 75, studded with five fours and a six. He was eventually dismissed by Mendis after offering a simple catch to Nuwan Kulasekara.
Some fireworks towards the end from David Miller (36 not out), and McLaren (22 not out) took South Africa to its highest total in Sri Lanka.
Mendis was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka, returning figures of 3 for 61 in ten overs that included the important wicket of Jacques Kallis.
Kumar Sangakkara was the star of Sri Lanka’s chase, scoring a fine 88 off just 84 balls, but his efforts could not prevent a South Africa win.
Sri Lanka looked to be on track at one point, but McLaren removed Lahiru Thirimanne and Sangakkara in the 38th over, after which Sri Lanka lost its last five wickets for just 13 runs.
Imran Tahir was the most successful bowler for South Africa, taking three wickets, although he proved slightly expensive, giving away 50 runs in seven overs.
The second ODI will be played in Pallekele on Wednesday, followed by the third and final match in Hambantota on Sunday.