South Africa v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group B, The Oval June 3, 2017

Tahir, Amla lead rout of Sri Lanka

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South Africa 299 for 6 (Amla 103, du Plessis 75, Pradeep 2-54) beat Sri Lanka 203 (Tharanga 57, Perera 44*, Tahir 4-27) by 96 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Agarkar: Sri Lanka's inexperience showed

Sri Lanka had lost five ODIs to South Africa already this year, but had hoped that months later, playing for a different trophy, they could apply the lessons learned during that walloping. It wasn't to be. The gulf in quality between these teams was borne out by the margin of South Africa's victory: 96 runs.

In fact, South Africa may reflect that despite Hashim Amla's velvet 103 from 115 balls, and Faf du Plessis' efficient 75, they were not quite explosive enough during the death.

They had begun indifferently with the ball too, allowing a pugnacious Niroshan Dickwella to unsettle them in the Powerplay, but soon, the middle-overs mastery of Imran Tahir took grip, and Sri Lanka's chase of 300 lay all but scuttled, as they slumped to 155 for 6 in the 30th over. In wiping the remainder of Sri Lanka's innings out in clinical fashion, South Africa have confirmed, if there was any doubt, that they are serious contenders for the trophy. Tahir's final figures were 4 for 27, but his effect on the match was even more substantial than those numbers lay out.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka, for whom it is now a compliment that only one important catch was dropped, gleaned only minor personal positives from the match. Dickwella set the chase off to a roaring start, Upul Tharanga contributed a half-decent fifty, Kusal Perera stood firm at one end while the lower order crashed around him, and Nuwan Pradeep showcased a slowly burgeoning range of skills with the ball. But these are not the kinds of performances that win matches.

The defining periods of play were the middle overs in each innings: having picked the less-aggressive spin option in Seekkuge Prasanna, Sri Lanka allowed Amla and du Plessis to prosper too easily during those overs, and with the bat, lost five wickets for 66 runs from overs 11 to 30.

For Amla, who had set South Africa on course for 299 - an imposing score, given the slightly slow nature of the surface - this innings may not rank as one of his best, but it did get him to the milestone of 25 ODI hundreds in 11 fewer innings than any previous batsman had managed it. He now also sits alongside Sachin Tendulkar, Kumar Sangakkara and Ricky Ponting to have 25 hundreds in both Tests and ODIs.

He was cautious to begin with, as Sri Lanka delivered some exceptionally tight overs. Initially, he hovered in the crease, dabbing and squeezing his way into the innings. Not until the penultimate ball of the first Powerplay did he venture a boundary: a flick off Pradeep over the leg side. He made only 26 off the first 40 balls he faced.

But following the departure of Quinton de Kock, whe nicked off to Pradeep, Amla playd with more ambition. There was a six over long-off, off Asela Gunaratne, in the 19th over, and in the 24th he slunk down the pitch to send Seekkuge Prasanna sailing over the deep midwicket fence. In between those two shots he had reached fifty, and suddenly, was scoring at close to a run a ball.

His partnership with du Plessis was the most fruitful of the innings, and the pair hauled South Africa to a position of strength with their quickening 145-run stand. Amla, having provided the innings its thrust during the overs when du Plessis was feeling his way into the game, allowed his partner to make the riskier plays during the middle overs, saving for himself the role of turning the strike over. In fact, between the 24th and 43rd over - when he got out - he hit only one boundary. South Africa scored only 78 runs in the last 10 overs, thanks again to some tight bowling by Pradeep, with support from Lasith Malinga and Suranga Lakmal. Of those runs, JP Duminy contributed 38 in the space of 20 deliveries.

Sri Lanka will particularly rule the rate at which their innings crashed and burned, because by the end of the first Powerplay, they had scored 55 more runs than South Africa had managed at that stage of the innings. Dickwella led this charge, flitting about the crease to carve the quicks over the offside, then jumping across to leg to whip them over leg, during his 33-ball 41. With Tharanga also batting confidently through those overs, it seemed inconceivable that Sri Lanka would not at least mount a muscular challenge to South Africa's total.

In the end, Tahir became their downfall, just as he had been during that bilateral series earlier in the year. Dinesh Chandimal got himself run-out trying to get off strike in Tahir's first over, before Chamara Kapugedara was trapped in front by a googly three balls later. Tharanga then launched a ball into the hands of deep cover, and Asela Gunaratne squirted a catch to square leg, and pretty soon, a rapid start had turned into a procession of wickets. Perera stuck around for 66 balls and hit 44 unbeaten runs, but Sri Lanka were already out of contention for most of his stay. Tahir came back to take the final wicket, and Sri Lanka were all out in the 42nd over.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gemba93344077 on June 7, 2017, 2:30 GMT

    wow kapugedara at his best as usual with 0 runs. Where's all his fan base gone? Go give him a hug! When are these so called selectors will realise this guy is useless in any form of cricket?!

  • Andrew on June 6, 2017, 19:18 GMT

    Don't make foolish comments, 2014- 2016 means 2015 included man .. FYI,...MJ retired from Tests in 2014 & both retired from all formats by mid 2015 .

  • amindh6043107 on June 6, 2017, 17:13 GMT

    Mahela and sanga played in 2015 too fyi . Why not include those stats too

  • Andrew on June 6, 2017, 13:56 GMT

    @TheRealMvp*_* : We all know, basically who was behind the on & off field strategies in 2013/14, training this guy Mathews. The simple reason for considering basically post Mahela Jayawardane era is simply that, to reflect the actual situation. Anyhow 21 series over 2+ yrs is more than enough for someone (if truly capable) to show some progress, instead of causing the nation a straight 5, 6 places down to the bottom of ICC rankings, with no hope in vicinity :(

  • amindh6043107 on June 6, 2017, 11:30 GMT

    I agree that tharanga has been a good stand in captain but can you please include all of the matches captained by mathews instead of removing those in 2014,2013 ? 2014 was one of our best years as an international outfit. Pls include that

  • Andrew on June 6, 2017, 5:09 GMT

    ANSWERS: This is how Mathews led the side by "example" in all formats since the end of 2014 & how UT did it in his brief spell:

    1) Mathews as skipper 2014 -2016: Total Series 21 / Lost 17/ Won 3/ Drew 1.

    2) Upul Tharanga as Skipper: 5 series/Lost 1 /Won 2 /Drew 2 (just 20% of UT's series ended in a defeat & 40% Won - easily it could have been 60% if not for that unfortunate 2nd Odi wash out in Dambulla that averted a certain win to seal that series).

    Comparison at a glance :

    - Under Mathews: SL LOST 81 % of his series / Won just 14% & Drew 5%

    - Under Tharanga: SL Lost 20 % of his series/ Won 40 % & Drew 40 %

    In fact, the obvious win in 2nd odi was averted by rain in Dambulla wiping the highly unlikely BD chase of historically match winning 311 (in SL) set up by Mendis ton & Tharanga's 65. Otherwise UT would have had 3 wins & 1 draw from just 5. Can you compare this record with Mathew's depressing record as Skipper; loosing 17 consecutive series from 21 & winning just 3?

  • Andrew on June 6, 2017, 4:38 GMT

    Some scared of stats that reveal facts they try to twist. No4 Chandi's turtle-pace, even ended up with a 50 @ 60-70SR will never win matches for SL. Turtle-tempo is a hallmark seen throughout his most innings & this guy never capable of accelerating his SR, once even settled.! What's the use of such 50s that only boost his own average at the cost of loosing matches for SL. Unfortunately, this was the prominent feature of his batting in recent times.

    Chandimal's recent doomed series Strike Rates in past 2 yrs as follows: SR 77 Vs BD - 25 Mar 2017/ SR 53 Vs SA - 28 Jan 2017 / SR 71 Vs Aus -21 Aug 2016/ SR 79 Vs Eng -21 Jun 16/ SR 63 Vs Nz -26 Dec 16/ SR 69 Vs WI -4 Nov 15.

    One typical example to prove his match dooming 50s that blocked the chances of others to reverse the result: SL v Eng ODI 2016 Series -2nd ODI his snoozing 52 r of 86 b at 60 SR on 300+ wkt (swallowing 45 dot-balls= approx 8 ovs without rotating the strike) left No7 Tharanga stranded at end with unbeaten 53* @108 SR.

  • upuler1604594 on June 5, 2017, 18:57 GMT

    One UT supporter in many guises, But he copies his statistical barage. So tactical, just like UT himself.

  • upuler1604594 on June 5, 2017, 18:55 GMT

    Can Mathews and Chandi the Seniors lead by example and win the next 2 games for SL? Can Mathews get his bowlers to finish within 3 1/2 hours? We took 4 h and 10 mins against SA a world record 40 mins off. Can Mathews inspire thw team?

  • Andrew on June 5, 2017, 15:46 GMT

    SL ran short of just 97 runs to beat SA. If the failed 4 batters (Chandi-12, Mendis-11, Kapu-0, Asela-4) instead OR if the middle order 4 batters had contribute at least 1x 50+ & 3 x20s the match would have won by SL & probably UT could have extended his 57 to another 100+ as he was well set to do that at that point & unfortunately fell trying to bring the lagging run rate up single-handedly with no contribution from other end to execute the original game plan handling Tahir with caution & yielding runs from other bowlers.

    What a waste...? Poor Tharanga had to face the severe punishment (60% of his fees & 2 match opportunity to make another ton), simply after trying to give SL the best possible chance make an real impact in this ICC-CT. But now, most likely SL may loose the other 2 games (even to Pk)... (:

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