Amla and Tahir star in Proteas Champions Trophy opener

Sri Lanka captain Upul Tharanga is banned for the next two Champions Trophy matches due to a slow over-rate in Saturday's opening loss to South Africa. However, it was Imran Tahir, who dashed Sri Lanka's hopes, managing to bowl an electrifying spell of 4 for 27, and thus sealing Sri Lanka fate in the tie.

The three main reasons for that were a sticky wicket at The Oval, a disciplined bowling effort by Sri Lanka's bowlers and the Proteas' big hitters, De Villiers and David Miller, not teeing off after being given a reasonable platform.

The Proteas posted 299 at The Oval on Saturday thanks to former captain Hasim Amla, who scored his 25th ODI century. South Africa's Faf du Plessis shot was travelling to long leg and Malinga was at the boundary. As he rushed in front to make a dive, he could not time the catch properly, and ended up dropping it. In the 13th over, De Kock was caught behind off Nuwan Pradeep. The 34-year-old is the fastest to 25 centuries having achieved the milestone in his 151st innings.

South Africa's Morne Morkel made the first breakthrough when he dismissed the unsafe Niroshan Dickwella for 41 after the Sri Lanka opener's attempted drive down the ground resulted in a comfortable catch for Wayne Parnell at third man.

Amla was run out by a direct hit from Tharanga for a fine 103 that came off 115 deliveries with five fours and two sixes.

Upul Tharanga's resilience: In an otherwise tiresome chase from Sri Lanka, it was the skipper Tharanga, who showed great resilience to make sure that he can allow and steer Sri Lanka home. Assisted by the wind and a tinge of grass on the pitch, the Sri Lankans leaked only 32 runs in the first 10 overs.

South Africa's next game is against Pakistan on June 7 while Sri Lanka meet India on June 8.

Man-of-the-match Tahir ran out Suranga Lakmal and struck twice more to get rid of Asela Gunaratne (4) and Nuwan Pradeep (5) as the Sri Lanka lower order collapsed. He was followed shortly after by his skipper AB De Villiers who was caught for just four at cover by Chamara Kapugedera off Seekkuge Prasanna.

It was a vital victory for the Proteas although not a flawless one and they will be looking for more consistency from the seam attack as they get ready to take on Pakistan in Birmingham on Wednesday.

  • Julie Sanders