Hashim Amla century sets up big win for South Africa
AB de Villiers turns game with two outstanding pieces of fielding
South Africa’s Imran Tahir celebrates taking the wicket of Sri Lanka’s Chamara Kapugedera for a duck during the ICC Champions Trophy match at The Oval in London. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images
South Africa 299-6 (H Amla 103, F du Plessis 75, JP Duminy 38no; N Pradeep 2-54), Sri Lanka 203 (41.3 ovs) (U Tharanga 57, K Perera 44no, N Dickwella 41; I Tahir 4-27, C Morris 2-32). South Africa won by 96 runs
Hashim Amla hit a century to set South Africa on their way to a 96-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening Group B match at the ICC Champions Trophy.
Amla’s 103, his 25th one-day international ton, helped the Proteas to what initially seemed a modest 299 for six from their 50 overs on a flat track at The Oval.
Alarm bells were ringing for the top-ranked limited-overs side when Sri Lanka, in reply, raced past 100 off just 88 deliveries with eight wickets in hand.
But after Dickwella departed for a rapid 41, AB de Villiers, who had earlier failed with the bat, came up with two pieces of brilliant fielding to turn the match.
The Proteas captain removed Kusal Mendis by plucking a drive out of the air one-handed, and then expertly dived and threw in one movement to run out Dinesh Chandimal.
And when Imran Tahir trapped Chamara Kapugedera first ball, Sri Lanka had suddenly lost three wickets for 23 runs.
Tharanga reached his 50 but departed seven runs later, holing out from Tahir to David Miller on the boundary.
Tahir also snared Asela Gunaratne and Nuwan Pradeep to finish with figures of four for 27 as Sri Lanka succumbed to 203 all out
Stand-in Sri Lanka captain Tharanga had elected to field and Pradeep made the breakthrough in the 12th over, tempting Quinton de Kock into chasing one outside off stump for 23.
Pradeep should have had his second wicket when Faf du Plessis, on six, skied an attempted hook but Lasith Malinga made a complete mess of the catch on the boundary.
The 33-year-old, playing his first one-day international 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.
It proved costly as Du Plessis and Amla went to make 145 for the second wicket before Pradeep, back for a second spell, finally got his man for 75.
At 189 for two, and with Amla taking root, South Africa appeared set fair but De Villiers came and went for just four and Miller fell for 18.
And worse was to come for South Africa when Amla, going for a second, was well short of his ground and run out by Mendis.
Another run-out from Tharanga removed Chris Morris for 20 but JP Duminy scratched out a handy 38 to leave Sri Lanka needing 300 which, once South Africa had snuffed out that bright start, they never looked like reaching.