South Africa vs Sri Lanka 1st ODI: Tahir helps South Africa draw first blood

Tahir finished with figures of 3-26 off his 10 overs

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Spinner Imran Tahir ripped through Sri Lanka’s middle order to lead South Africa to an eight-wicket win in the first ODI in Port Elizabeth.

Electing to bowl first, the Proteas only had to wait for seven balls to get their first breakthrough as Wayne Parnell trapped Niroshan Dickwella lbw for just one run.

Debutant Sandun Weerakkody also failed to have an impact as he was dismissed by Parnell for five runs.

Kusal Mendis and wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal stemmed the bleeding with a 72-run partnership, during which Mendis brought up his fifty.

But, just as Sri Lanka had managed to steer their innings back in the right direction, Tahir struck thrice in quick succession, removing Chandimal for 22, Mendis for 62 and stand-in captain Upul Tharanga for six runs.

Mendis struck 10 boundaries during his knock of 62

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Sri Lanka were unable to recover from Tahir’s triple strike as they continued to lose wickets at regular intervals. As a result, they ended up being bowled out for a disappointing 181.

Tahir and Parnell picked up three wickets apiece, while Chris Morris snapped up two and Kagiso Rabada chipped in with one.

Chasing 182 to win, South Africa made a strong start to their innings as the opening duo of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla amassed a 71-run stand.

Even though De Kock went on to be dismissed by Lakshan Sandakan for 34, the Proteas continued to take the attack to the tourists as Amla and Faf Du Plessis put together a 60-run partnership, during which Amla surpassed his half-century.

Amla, however, was unable to build on his fifty as he was caught and bowled by Asela Gunaratne for 57 off 71 balls, which included five boundaries and a six.

Amla made his 31st ODI half-century

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Du plessis and captain AB de Villiers finished things off with an unbeaten 54-run stand as South Africa cruised to victory with 94 balls to spare.

Du Plessis concluded the match on 55 not out, which came off 68 balls and included five boundaries, while De Villiers remained undefeated on 30 off 27 deliveries, which included three boundaries and a six.

Du Plessis scored his 24th ODI fifty

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Sandakan and Gunaratne claimed one wicket each.

Tharanga was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “I think Chandimal and Mendis had a partnership, but we could never pick up from the two wickets at the start. It’s about spinners, the wicket was slow. Our spinners did not control the ball much, lots of areas to improve on the batting and bowling fronts. We have a couple of days to sit together as a team and have a chat about what we can improve. Like I said, both batting and bowling, lots of areas to improve.”

De Villiers was pleased to have taken a 1-0 lead in the series, and said: “I thought it was a really good performance. It was a difficult wicket to get used to, low, slow and a bit two-paced. But we used our chances really well, great bowling performance to set it up for our batters.

“Our new-ball bowlers bowled with a lot of intensity and Immy (Imran Tahir) bowled really well. I have had a few windy games before in my life, so I just relied on my experience from those games and it paid off really well today. There is more than enough time, Russell [Domingo] and I keep talking about plans and there is also Faf to bounce ideas off.

“It’s a tricky total always. It was definitely below-par, I thought 250-260 would have been easy to chase down, but it could still have been tricky. But Quinton and Faf got off to a good start and it set things up nicely for the remaining batters. Easy win today, but we expect them to fight back in the series.”

Tahir was named Man of the Match, and said: “Very happy with the way it came out. Very good, pleasing day for me and the team. Just a believer that I need to keep doing it every game, and for that, I have been working really hard. I don’t take any game lightly. Playing for South Africa is really special. Today is very special because it is my wedding anniversary. My wife asked me to get five wickets and this is absolutely for her. I think I was bowling against the wind which was obviously easier for the batsmen to hit me.

“But I always look to bowl according to the field. Somehow I get my wickets but I try not to give runs and try and use my variations. It was a great team effort, the fast bowlers started very well and I had a chance to do the job for South Africa, which is an honour for South Africa. Every wicket I take for South Africa, I try to express how much it means to me when I celebrate. I play for a great country and a great team and I want to continue doing it for as long as I can.”

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