Amla, Tahir sink Sri Lanka to give Proteas winning start


Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir played starring roles as South Africa began their ICC Champions Trophy campaign with an emphatic 96-run victory over Sri Lanka at The Oval.

The prolific Amla compiled 103 from 115 balls - bringing up his 25th one-day international century in fewer innings than any batsman in history - and shared 145 with Faf du Plessis (75) as the Proteas posted 299-6 after being inserted on Saturday.

South Africa lost momentum in the closing stages of their innings and may have been feeling nervous when the flamboyant Niroshan Dickwella (41) gave Sri Lanka a flying start in reply.

However, Sri Lanka lost their way after a swift opening stand of 69 and were ultimately dismissed for 203 in the 42nd over, Tahir their chief tormentor as the canny leg-spinner returned figures of 4-27.

Although Quinton de Kock failed to fire at the top of the order for South Africa, using up 42 balls for his 23, Amla and Du Plessis proceeded to lay an excellent platform.

There was a huge let-off for Du Plessis on eight when he top-edged Nuwan Pradeep to long leg, only for Lasith Malinga - on his first ODI appearance since November 2015 - to make a mess of the chance.

South Africa's second-wicket pair steadily picked up the pace thereafter and it took a fine catch from Dinesh Chandimal at midwicket to remove Du Plessis for 75, Pradeep claiming his second breakthrough.

AB de Villiers and David Miller fell cheaply either side of Amla reaching three figures and Sri Lanka had a further boost when the centurion was run out by Kusal Mendis.

JP Duminy hit 38 off 20 balls to provide some much-needed late impetus for his side, but Dickwella and stand-in skipper Upul Tharanga combined effectively in reply, the former producing some extravagant strokes after he and his opening partner had each survived return chances to Kagiso Rabada.

That proved as good as it got for Sri Lanka, who were hampered by wickets at regular intervals following Dickwella's departure to Morne Morkel in the ninth over.

Tharanga reached 57 and Kusal Perera finished unbeaten on 44, but there were no other significant contributions with the bat as Tahir's variations proved too much to handle and De Villiers showed his class in the field, pulling off a superb leaping catch and an agile run-out.