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First-person reports from the stands

South Africa v Sri Lanka, ICC Champions Trophy, Centurion

Dilshan storms Centurion

So the home side lost, but the fans at Centurion weren't complaining - too much

Guy Snelling

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Graeme Smith's leg stump is knocked back, South Africa v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group B, Centurion, September 22, 2009
Not the best day to be a South Africa fan © Associated Press
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Choice of game
South Africa were playing and the opening match of any tournament is always worth watching. If I were a gambling man, my money would have been on South Africa, and indeed I still had hope for them until Jacques Kallis lost his wicket.

Team supported
I'm a Protea supporter and I still believe that we can win this tournament. The team will learn from the mistakes made today and will work to move forward.

Key performer
Tillakaratne Dilshan. He outplayed the South African opening bowlers, Wayne Parnell in particular, and his 106 off 92 balls was well deserved.

One thing I would have changed about the match
I would have had South Africa play a few warm-up matches before the tournament. They hadn't played for a few months and the practice could only have helped.

Wow moment
Dale Steyn's wicket of Dilshan, caught by Albie Morkel when Steyn was re-introduced at the Hennops River End was a turning point, as were Parnell's consecutive wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera.

Player watch
We were sitting in the stadium in the area of long leg to a left-hand batsman and the players near us were the fast bowlers of both sides. Due to the "moat" at Centurion, it is impossible to get autographs, but the partisan crowd applauded both Steyn and Johan Botha. Lasith Malinga managed to avoid any heckling until his "wide" bouncer to Botha. After that the crowd set up a chant against him.

Shot of the day
Kallis' high four on 15, immediately followed by Graeme Smith's low flying rocket to the boundary on 17 really got the crowd going and were probably the best shots of the South African innings.

Crowd meter
It was a weekday match and the stadium started off only about half full, but it filled up slowly as spectators got off from work. By that time, though, Sri Lanka were well up on their score, so the crowd was very subdued. There was the occasional Mexican wave and isolated pockets of cheering and singing that kept the buzz going and most people had a good time. It was a partisan crowd but there were a number of Sri Lankan flags flying nevertheless, and all the spectators applauded the good Sri Lankan shots and fielding.

I saw a few people in green-and-yellow body paint and a couple of topless guys running round in skirts.

There was a group of four- or five-year-old girls smartly dressed in pink and white, dancing and waving their South Africa flags and 4/6 cards whenever they got the opportunity, much to the delight of the nearby spectators.

Entertainment
There are going to be a number of competitions running during this tournament during the innings breaks. We were entertained with the Reebok "Hit the Stumps" competition, where lucky spectators can win cash prizes of up to R 100,000 for hitting the stumps from the boundary. There was also a Dress Like a Champion" competition, where the winner got to take home a Honda motorcycle.

Unlike the cheerleaders of the Twenty20 competitions, we had African dancing and drums for each wicket and six. A nice idea, but I thought it was somehow out of place in the environment of a cricket stadium.

ODI v Twenty20
I think that South Africa has been spoilt by the amount of Twenty20 that we've been exposed to this year. This was my first live ODI in a long time and it did seem to drag at some stages. It obviously lacks the speed of Twenty20, but the match did get exciting, and I look forward to the rest of the tournament.

Dale Steyn can't control his excitement, South Africa v Sri Lanka, Champions Trophy, Group B, Centurion, September 22, 2009
Dale Steyn provided some relief © Getty Images
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Enhanced viewing
I didn't take too much with me in the way of food, but I did have field glasses to view the action and the crowd, and also my cellphone, with which I logged on to Cricinfo to get clarification on scores and plays.

Marks out of 10
On a scale of 1 to 10, where the South Africa v Australia 438 match was a 12, I would rate this one 7. There was some excellent cricket played by both sides, but the domination by Sri Lanka put a dampener on the local crowd.

Outplay of the day
It seemed to me Sri Lanka beat South Africa by their bowlers' ability to bowl to their field. Sri Lanka were able to easily score boundaries during their opening Powerplay, but when it was their turn to bowl, they stacked the field on one side and the bowlers bowled to that side. Consequently South Africa found it hard to find the gaps, and even when they did, the sweeper was perfectly positioned to prevent a boundary.

While Guy hails from England, he's been a South African long enough to be an ardent Protea fan and to join his mates in lambasting Kevin Pietersen whenever the opportunity arises. And of course, being South African, Guy supports any team that plays Australia. He is happy that England managed to pull one back against Australia recently because it allows the Proteas to be the ones to whitewash England when they tour SA later this year. The Nashua Titans are his home team and he is delighted to have so many of the team playing for the Proteas.

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