Port Elizabeth - Imran Tahir underlined his value as a mid-innings strike bowler as he set the Proteas up for a comfortable victory in the first ODI at St. George’s Park on Saturday. His efforts earned him the Momentum Man of the Match award.
Credit must also go to Wayne Parnell who took two early wickets after AB de Villiers had won the toss in extremely blustery conditions and opted to bowl first and showed good consistency in getting three wickets in an innings for the second ODI in a row.
Sri Lanka did their best to fight their way back into the match when Kusal Mendis (62 off 94 balls, 10 fours) and Dinesh Chandimal (22 off 55 balls, 1 four) put on 71 for the third wicket but then Imran struck three times in the space of four overs, dismissing both these batsmen as well as captain Upul Tharanga and from there it was downhill all the way for the visitors who were dismissed for 181 with Imran finishing with 3/26 and Parnell 3/48.
The Proteas then coasted to an eight-wicket victory with 15.4 overs (94 balls to spare). The essential difference between the two sides was that the Proteas had successive partnerships of 71, 60 and an unbroken 50 whereas Sri Lanka had only one partnership in excess of 30 runs.
Hashim Amla confirmed his return to good form (57 off 71 balls, 5 fours and a six) and the top four batsmen all got a good look at the mysteries of the left-arm wrist spinner, Lakshan Sandakan, who took a respectable 1/35 in 8 overs. As Sri Lanka are in the same pool as the Proteas for the ICC Champions Trophy this series gives the home batsmen a wonderful chance to work out strategies to combat him rather than having to play him blind when they get to England.
Both AB de Villiers and Chris Morris made successful returns to the ODI squad after injury, the former making an unbeaten 30 off 27 balls (3 fours and a six) and the latter taking two wickets.
The second ODI takes place at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Wednesday at 13:30.