The Sunday Leader

South Africa Demolish Sorry Lankans

  • Sri Lanka vs South Africa First ODI – Port Elizabeth

PIX: Imran Thahir was once again the chief tormentor

South Africa crushed Sri Lanka by eight wickets in their first ODI at Port Elizabeth on Saturday to go 1-0 in the three-match series.

After the Lankans were dismissed for a below par 181 the hosts raced along to 182 for two with as much as 94 balls to spare as their opponents failed to even compete in the game.

Earlier another top class exhibition of one-day legspin by Imran Tahir had snuffed out Sri Lanka’s middle order as they limped to 181. Tahir finished with 3 for 26, including the scalp of top-scorer Kusal Mendis for 62, and did not concede a boundary in his 10 overs, to ensure South Africa never lost control of the innings after deciding to bowl first.

Wayne Parnell made swift work of the openers, before a stand of 72 for the third wicket between Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal steadied the innings, although it was laborious progress against probing bowling from South Africa’s quartet of seamers. It meant that when Tahir made his inroads, with three wickets in 15 balls, Sri Lanka had little to show for the consolidation.

AB de Villiers, who made his international return in the final T20, was back in charge of the one-day side in his first ODI since last June, and he opted to give his formidable batting line-up a target to chase. South Africa’s squad for this series is probably not far from what they will take to the Champions Trophy, but some players are still in need of performances to cement their positions.

Chief among those is Parnell, and he made the perfect start when he trapped Niroshan Dickwella lbw first ball. He soon followed that with the wicket of debutant Sandun Weerakkody, who had only arrived in the country on Friday after a delayed flight, when he had a waft outside off which smacked of jetlag.

Sri Lanka knew they had to avoid further early losses, so caution was the watch-word for Chandimal, although Mendis showed greater inclination to attack, twice taking two boundaries in an over off Parnell and Andile Phehlukwayo. Mendis was given lbw on 48, but the decision by Richard Kettleborough was overturned when replays showed an edge off his sweep and he reached his fifty from 74 balls.

But it wasn’t long before Tahir started to unpick the innings. Chandimal, who had taken 47 balls to find the boundary, was beautifully set up by a series of leg-breaks, before Tahir tossed a googly wide which spun back between bat and pad. Two overs later, he removed Mendis, lbw, playing back to a delivery that spun enough to beat the outside edge, and this time the review brought no reprieve.

Upul Tharanga, captaining this side in Angelo Mathews’ absence, continued in the middle-order role he had in last year’s tri-series in Zimbabwe despite his 13 hundreds coming as an opener. He could not lift his side, however, when he drove limply to cover, although Tahir deserved credit for switching his line to around the wicket.



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