Amla, Tahir lead South Africa to comfortable victory

Hashim Amla. Champions Trophy

Imran Tahir’s stellar four-fer and a record-tumbling 25th ODI century from Hashim Amla helped South Africa cruise to a 96-run win against Sri Lanka in their opening game of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at the Kennington Oval in London on Saturday (June 3).

A spirited bowling show by Proteas, well supported by some neat fielding, saw Sri Lanka bundled out for just 203 in the 42nd over as South Africa registered their first win of the multi-team tournament.

Chasing 300 for victory, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start as they reached 1-87 at the end of the 10th over, courtesy quickfire 41 from Niroshan Dickwella. But a rapid start quickly converted into a procession of wickets after Tahir was introduced in the 18th over, with Chamara Kapugedera, Upul Tharanga and Asela Gunaratne all falling prey to the leg-spinner. And in no time Sri Lanka were out of contention, reeling at 191 for 7 at close to 30-overs mark.

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Tahir returned later to pick up Nuwan Pradeep and claim figures of 4 for 27. Chris Morris also picked up 2 crucial wickets.

Earlier in the day, South Africa posted 6-299 while batting first, thanks to Amla’s 103 and his vital 145-run stand with Faf du Plessis, who scored a swift 75. It could have been more had Proteas’ middle order pressed harder; they were 189 for 2 at one stage and looked set for a total above 320. But JP Duminy somewhat compensated for the lackluster middle overs with his brisk 38, as South Africa finally finished on 299.

Nuwan Pradeep was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka, as he returned figures of 2-57 in his allotted quota.

Match Summary:

South Africa 299 for 6 (Hashim Amla 103,Faf du Plessis 75, Nuwan Pradeep 2-54) beat Sri Lanka 203 (Upul Tharanga 57, Kusal Perera 44*, Imran Tahir 4-27) by 96 runs

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Captains’ Comments:

“It wasn’t as true a wicket as the England-Bangladesh game. It was possible for them to chase it down, but we needed a few early wickets, which we got. It was important to assess in the first 10-15 overs. They bowled exceptionally well, and credit to our openers for seeing it out. It’s scary, the amount of runs Hashim has piled on in his short career, hopefully many more to come.” On bringing Tahir on late: “It was a difficult situation, it was just a feeling I got, there was no set plan. A little breeze, I had a little chat with him, and I just had a good feeling, when I brought him on.” What’s the biggest challenge as a captain: “Getting team selection right, and getting the balance right for every game.” AB de Villiers, South Africa captain, said according to ESPNCricinfo.

“At the start we bowled well, even after the Hashim-Faf partnership, we came back well. Keeping them under 300 was a good effort. We couldn’t get any wicket in the middle period. We had Lakshan Sandakan – we could include him in the next game. We play against India next, we have to come back strongly, especially the batting – we have to get those big scores. Today I felt we played some loose shots.” Upul Tharanga, Sri Lanka captain, said according to ESPNCricinfo.