Sri Lanka's Upul Tharanga suspended by ICC for over-rate offence

With Tharanga also batting confidently through those overs, it seemed inconceivable that Sri Lanka would not at least mount a muscular challenge to South Africa's total. It wasn't to be.

South Africa opened their the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy campaign with a 96 run victory over Sri Lanka today.

Earlier, the Proteas' total of 299/6 had been built on the back of Hashim Amla's 25th one-day worldwide ton, a brilliant 75 from Faf du Plessis and a quickfire 38 at the end of the innings by JP Duminy.

In reply Sri Lanka were hauled in mid-chase by a fine, aggressive spell of leg-spin from the ever-exuberant Imran Tahir, a bowler who greets every wicket, even a dragged-down mishit to deep cover, with a wildly joyful sprint, like a man fleeing a burning building while simultaneously hearing news of a million-pound jackpot win. The most by any spinner since Tahir debuted in 2011. However, if does not get match fit, then Dinesh Chandimal may take up the responsibility of captaining the side.

The South African No.3 top-edged a pull off Nuwan Pradeep and it flew high to Malinga, who misjudged it completely and grassed it. But these are not the kinds of performances that win matches.

He was eventually run out for 103 (115 balls, 5 fours and 2 sixes) but not before he had shared a second-wicket record stand with Faf du Plessis (75 off 70 balls, 6 fours) for the Proteas against Sri Lanka of 145 which was one better than the previous best of 144 he had shared with Jacques Kallis.

Although Quinton de Kock failed to fire at the top of the order for South Africa, using up 42 balls for his 23, Amla and Du Plessis proceeded to lay an excellent platform. He now also sits alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Kumar Sangakkara and Ricky Ponting to have 25 hundreds in both Tests and ODIs. He made only 26 off the first 40 balls he faced.

Prasanna got some punishment in the 24th over as first it was du Plessis who thumped him away for a boundary and later on later on by Amla for a maximum as 11 runs came of his over. At the end of the first powerplay, South Africa managed just 39 runs but most importantly they negotiated the phase without losing a wicket.

South Africa has won the game against Sri Lanka by 96 runs after bowling out Sri Lanka for 203 runs.

For a while Sri Lanka attacked the chase with some hunger before Dickwella was winkled out by Morne Morkel for 41.

But Sri Lanka are set to delay any final decision on Mathews until the morning of Saturday's match at the Oval.

In the end, Tahir became their downfall, just as he had been during that bilateral series earlier in the year.

The 33-year-old, playing his first one-day worldwide since November 2015, seemed to lose his balance as he stepped backwards onto the rope, and then in diving forward he somehow failed to get a hand onto the ball.

  • Julie Sanders