South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir turns match to curtail Sri Lanka's fast start as powerhouse Proteas claim a 96-run win
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir and former captain Hashim Amla excelled in South Africa's 96-run win against Sri Lanka in their Champions Trophy opener at The Oval on Saturday.
South Africa posted 6-299 thanks to Amla's 103 and Faf du Plessis’s 75 and then restricted Sri Lanka to 203 as Tahir took four wickets.
Sri Lanka got off to a good start reaching 1-87 at the end of the tenth over, but the introduction of Tahir in the 18th turned the game firmly in South Africa’s favour.
The 34-year-old Amla is the fastest batsman to 25 centuries having achieved the milestone in his 151st innings. It was his fifth ODI hundred against Sri Lanka.
Tahir finished with 4-27 and also had a direct-hit run out as the Proteas withstood a fast start to Sri Lanka's run chase to rattle through their opponents' middle order.
South Africa were slow out of the blocks after being put in to bat in overcast conditions.
There were no boundaries in the first six overs and Sri Lanka - who suffered a huge blow before the start of play when captain Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the game with a calf strain - contained the world's No.1 ranked ODI team to 32 runs in the first 10 overs.
Fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, who came on as first change, provided the breakthrough when Quinton de Kock was caught behind for 23.
However, South Africa then made hay as Amla and Faf du Plessis added 145 runs for the second wicket - Lasith Malinga costing his side dear when he dropped du Plessis at long-leg when he was on eight.
The stand was broken when du Plessis was spectacularly caught by Dinesh Chandimal at short mid-wicket for 75 as Pradeep came on for a fresh spell.
Amla reached his half-century off 53 balls and brought up his 25th century in ODI cricket in 112 balls with a single to square leg off Suranga Lakmal.
But the 34-year-old was run out in the next over after reaching three figures when he attempted a second run having turned Asela Gunaratne to mid-wicket and Kusal Mendis' accurate throw found him short of his crease.
Amla hit just five fours and two sixes for his 103 and faced 115 deliveries.
Chris Morris and JP Duminy injected some late momentum as they added 45 runs for the sixth wicket off 32 deliveries.
The stand was broken when Morris was run out by a direct hit from Upul Tharanga fielding at mid-off.
Duminy finished things off in style, smashing Pradeep for a six from the last ball. He was 38 not out off 29 deliveries.
While hosts England successfully chased 306 in the curtain-raiser of the competition on Thursday against Bangladesh at the same venue, Sri Lanka's batsmen will face a tougher challenge as this match is being played on a different surface, where the ball was slow off the pitch.
Champions Trophy 2017 Guide
AUSTRALIA SQUAD: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa
Other squads: Every Champions Trophy squad
2 June – Australia v New Zealand, washed out, Edgbaston (D)
3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)
4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)
5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)
6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)
7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)
8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)
9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)
10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)
11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)
12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)
14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)
15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)
18 June – Final, The Oval (D)
19 June – Reserve day (D)