Champions Trophy 3rd Match: Amla, Tahir star as South Africa flatten lacklustre Sri Lanka

Tahir was named Man of the Match for his figures of 4-27 off 8.3 overs

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South Africa opened their Champions Trophy account with a convincing 96-run win over Sri Lanka courtesy of opener Hashim Amla’s record-breaking century and spinner Imran Tahir’s superb four-for.

Being put in to bat first, South Africa made a steady start to their innings before opener Quinton de Kock was caught behind off the bowling of Nuwan Pradeep for 23.

Amla and Faf du Plessis, who was dropped by Lasith Malinga on eight, made up for the loss of De Kock with a 145-run partnership, during which both batsmen surpassed their half-centuries.

With the Proteas cruising, Sri Lanka needed to find a way back into the game, and, once again, it was Pradeep who provided the breakthrough as he removed Du Plessis for 75 off 70 balls, which included six boundaries.

Du Plessis scored his 28th ODI fifty

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Captain AB de Villiers only mustered four runs, while David Miller scored 18 before he was on his way back to the pavilion.

Amla ended up making 103 off 115 deliveries, which included five boundaries and two sixes, before he was run out by Kusal Mendis.

Amla celebrates after bringing up his 25th ODI hundred

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With his hundred, Amla not only became the first South African player to score 25 ODI centuries, but also achieved the feat in record time as he needed just 151 innings to do it. The previous record holder was India skipper Virat Kohli, who accomplished the milestone in 162 innings.

Despite losing Chris Morris for 20, JP Duminy smashed an unbeaten 38 to lead his side to 299/6 off their 50 overs.

Pradeep was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Suranga Lakmal and Seekkuge Prasanna chipped in with one wicket apiece.

Chasing 300 to win, Sri Lanka made a fabulous start to their innings as Niroshan Dickwella and stand-in captain Upul Tharanga amassed a 69-run partnership before Dickwella was sent packing by Morne Morkel for a 33-ball 41.

Things began to go downhill for Sri Lanka after Dickwella’s departure as they lost Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedara in quick succession.

Tharanga proceeded to score 57 off 69 balls, which included six boundaries, before he was removed by Tahir.

Tharanga made his 32nd fifty in ODI cricket

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Sri Lanka were unable to recover after Tharanga was dismissed as they went from 146/5 to being bowled out for 203.

Tahir was the most successful bowler with four wickets, while Morris took two and Morkel and Kagiso Rabada claimed one wicket each.

Tharanga was disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “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.”

De Villiers was thrilled to start the tournament on the right foot, and said: “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.”

Tahir edged out Amla for the Man of the Match award, and said: “Been working really hard. Really enjoying. Hope it carries on through the tournament. I think [AB] knew the situation, I was always ready to bowl. The openers batted really well, but we stuck to our plans and came back strongly.

“I wasn’t expecting any spin, watching the England-Bangladesh game the other day, but it helped my variations a little. Very happy with how it came out today. I’ve had a tough last one week, thanks for all the people who supported me.”

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