Amla, Tahir help Proteas beat Sri Lanka


AB de Villiers saluted Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir after the duo inspired South Africa to victory over Sri Lanka in their ICC Champions Trophy opener.

Amla hit 103, his 25th one-day international century, as South Africa posted 6-299 from their 50 overs at the Oval to set Sri Lanka an even 300 for the win.

Legspinner Tahir then took 4-27 - and celebrated each wicket wildly - as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 203, giving the Proteas a 96-run win.

"It was an amazing innings," skipper de Villiers said of Amla's performance.

"He did really well to assess the conditions. It was important not to lose early wickets and it was really tough to score early on. We knew it would be important to have a foundation.

"We felt 275 would be par so we were really happy to get around 300. Hash obviously played a huge role in that.

"Even though we won by almost 100 runs they were only a partnership or two from getting really close.

"Imran was close to 10 out of 10. He's a great asset for us and it was a fantastic performance."

Veteran Sri Lankan quick Lasith Malinga was back in the fold in his first ODI since November 2015, but his most notable contribution was a horrendous dropped catch.

Faf du Plessis, on six, skied an attempted hook off Nuwan Pradeep but Malinga failed to get a hand on the ball.

It proved costly as du Plessis and Amla went on to make 145 for the second wicket before Pradeep finally got his man for 75.

That set up an ultimately comfortable win, although 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.

Kagiso Rabada had spilled the simplest of caught and bowled chances off Upul Tharanga while fellow opener Niroshan Dickwella was smashing Wayne Parnell to all corners.

After Dickwella departed for a rapid 41 de Villiers, who had earlier failed with the bat, came up with two pieces of brilliant fielding to turn the match.

He 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.

"We got a couple of wickets to turn the momentum around a bit," de Villiers added.

"We stayed calm and composed. Those moments happen when you create a bit of pressure, we squeezed really well and the pressure was building on the opposition."

Tharanga, stand-in captain with Angelo Mathews out injured, top scored for Sri Lanka with 57 but was disappointed by Sri Lanka's middle order collapse.

"At one time it looked like they would get around 330 so to get them out for under 300 was a really good effort," Tharanga said.

"We started well and were trying to build a partnership but after losing four wickets chasing 300 it is not easy.

"We play against India next and we have to come back strongly, especially the batting. Today I felt we played some loose shots."