Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and pace bowler Kagiso Rabada took four wickets apiece to help their side register a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Dambulla.
Opting to bat first, Sri Lanka found themselves in trouble early on as Rabada carved through their top order, taking three of the five wickets that fell in the first nine overs.
With Sri Lanka reeling at 36/5 in the ninth over, Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera came to the rescue with a much-needed 92-run partnership before Thisara was caught behind off the bowling of Shamsi for a 30-ball 49.
Shamsi then clean bowled Akila Dananjaya for 11 before removing Kusal for 81, which came off 72 deliveries and included 11 boundaries and a six.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Rabada returned to take out Suranga Lakmal before Sri Lanka were bowled out for 193 when Lahiru Kumara was stumped by Quinton de Kock off the bowling of Shamsi for three runs.
Rabada and Shamsi picked up four wickets apiece, while Lungi Ngidi chipped in with one.
Chasing 194 to win, South Africa made a brisk start to their innings before opener Hashim Amla was cleaned up by Dananjaya for 19.
Dananjaya removed Aiden Markram the very next ball, but De Kock and Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis stabilised the innings with an 86-run partnership.
De Kock ended up making 47 before he was caught by Lakmal at extra cover off the bowling of Dananjaya.
Du Plessis also scored 47 before he was caught by Sri Lanka stand-in captain Angelo Mathews at slip off the bowling of Lakshan Sandakan.
JP Duminy and David Miller added 43 runs to the score before Miller was trapped lbw off the bowling of Lakmal for 10 runs.
Despite the loss of Miller, Duminy led South Africa across the finish line as he finished on 53 off 32 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes.
Dananjaya was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Lakmal and Sandakan claimed one wicket each.
Mathews was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “Disappointed, wasn’t the best day but we have four more games to bounce back. The way Kusal and Thisara fought back was great. 250 plus would’ve helped us give a good fight, they bowled and batted well. They’ve always had a very good bowling line-up, have been a threat wherever they’ve played. We need to bat better with the new ball. Bowling us out in 34 overs was disappointing, we may have got to 230-240 had we batted through.”
Du Plessis was pleased to have won, and said: “Feels much better to be chatting as a winning captain. We spoke of the chasing record. In day games, the first 15 overs, the seamers will always have an opportunity to take wickets. We thought the surface will stay the same whole day.
“The breeze was a big challenge, but past experience of playing in Hambantota helped. I thought the guys had decent plans with the wind. Test series we didn’t play well, new group of players for the ODIs. I also thought we’ve learnt our lessons, had good discussions and putting pressure on their spinners by taking a few risks. Someone like JP and all the batsmen, did very well. Lots of cricket left, we’re looking forward to it.”
Shamsi was named Man of the Match, and said: “The fast bowlers were exceptional, their hard work made my job easier. The wind was a major factor, you had to see which angles and lines to bowl. It’s been good bowling here, this pitch didn’t spin much though. But whatever the surface, you have to go out and do the job. Credit to our support staff group.”