Amla and du Plessis hit half-centuries to steer comfortable chase of 182 against Sri Lanka in first ODI
Imran Tahir (3 for 26) and Wayne Parnell (3 for 48) set up a facile eight-wicket win for South Africa with 15.4 overs to spare in the first One-Day International against Sri Lanka St George’s Park on Saturday (January 28).
South Africa did well to bowl Sri Lanka out for 181 after opting to field on a two-paced and slow pitch — more suited to the visiting side than the home side — and was equally clinical in the chase with both Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis hitting fluent half-centuries.
With the required run-rate below four runs per over, Quinton de Kock and Amla could afford to ease into their innings. They ran the singles hard, picking up the occasional boundary, but upped the ante after ten overs.
While Tahir was the most successful of the South African bowlers, Sri Lanka’s spinners didn’t have the same impact. Jeffrey Vandersay, the legspinner, was greeted by Amla with two fours and a six, but Lakshan Sandakan, the chinaman bowler, came back from a slightly expensive over himself to prise out de Kock for 34.
Sandakan then got one to rip away and rap Faf du Plessis’s back pad, but the batsman survived and a partnership flourished once more. Amla, showing no discomfort against spin, used the paddle sweep to good effect as he brought up a fifty off 56 balls while du Plessis took his time to get settled. When Amla finally departed for 57 — against the run of play — offering a return catch to Asela Gunaratne, South Africa only needed 51 runs with 24 overs still remaining.
It was just as well as it brought AB de Villiers, the captain, to the crease, playing his first ODI since last June. He impressed on his international comeback in the third Twenty20 International a mere three days back, but it came in a losing cause. This time, there was no such disappointment in store for South Africa as du Plessis (55 not out of 68 balls) and de Villiers (30 not out off 27 balls) finished the task in the 35th over with South Africa reaching 185 for 2.
The bowlers couldn’t be faulted too much as the total was never going to challenge a fit and firing South Africa side. Parnell set the tone, plunging Sri Lanka into early trouble by taking wickets with the first balls of the second and fourth overs.
Niroshan Dickwella, the star of Sri Lanka’s T20I series triumph, made only 1 before he went back on his stumps and was leg-before wicket to Parnell. Sandun Weerakkody, the debutant, slashed at the first ball of Parnell’s next over and was caught at first slip for 5.
Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal put on 72 for the third wicket in a partnership dominated by the former, before Tahir ripped the heart out of the batting by taking three wickets in four overs.
Chandimal was bowled by a googly from Tahir. But Mendis hit ten boundaries in his 94-ball 62. His first seven scoring strokes were fours, mainly struck well on the off side.
He was given out leg before to Tahir when he had 46, surviving on review because of a bottom edge, but could not escape a second lbw decision when he was squared up by Tahir, who then had Upul Tharanga, the Sri Lanka captain, caught at cover.