Sri Lanka v South Africa, 1st ODI, Colombo July 6, 2014

Amla ton underpins large SA win


South Africa 304 for 5 (Amla 109, de Villiers 75, Mendis 3-61) beat Sri Lanka 229 (Sangakkara 88, Tahir 3-50) by 75 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

What a difference a year makes. Rewind to the July 2013 series between these two sides: South Africa could not manage a single total over 300 or one centurion in the five ODIs they played, and their lack of a wicket-taking spinner was exposed so dearly that they only managed to bowl the hosts out once. Fast-forward to the July 2014 rubber and South Africa ticked all those boxes in the first match.

Hashim Amla anchored the innings with a hard-fought hundred and had a 151-run partnership with AB de Villiers. The pair set their team up for a final assault, which David Miller provided. Miller led the late charge and South Africa scored 53 runs in the final five overs to post their highest total in Sri Lanka, leaving with hosts with the challenge of scoring the highest second-innings total at the Premadasa.

Despite a speedy start and a sparkling 88 from Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka lost their last five wickets for 13 runs and were left to rue the tactical mistakes they made in the first half of the match. They put down de Villiers on 17 and Amla on 49, which cost them, but Angelo Mathews seemed overly reliant on the notion South Africa would struggle against spin. He held his seamers back to his own detriment.

Lasith Malinga bowled just seven of his 10 overs - though he went for 7.42 per over - while Nuwan Kulasekera and Angelo Mathews, who conceded 4.33 and 5.00, only bowled six overs each. Sachithra Senanayake and Ajantha Mendis bowled out and took four wickets between them, but the 11 overs from Ashan Priyanjan and Tillakaratne Dilshan cost Sri Lanka 78 runs.

Amla and de Villiers, who faced the bulk of the balls, are accomplished players of spin and were largely untroubled. They came together in the 14th over, after Amla had got some measure of the surface and steered South Africa to a safe start despite losing both his opening partner Quinton de Kock and Jacques Kallis.

Kallis will be South Africa's only concern. After being declared fully fit following an upper back problem that kept him out of the warm-up match, Kallis was out for a second-ball duck when he failed to read Mendis' carrom ball. He did not bowl, so his impact on the game was negligible.

That did not matter to Amla and de Villiers as they built steadily. After their respective let-offs, one of which allowed Amla to get to fifty, they called for the batting Powerplay and scored 34 runs in the five-over period. That was where Sri Lanka allowed the game to slip. Mathews did not look to strike, though it was evident he also could not contain.

It took a moment of fortune for the hosts to find a way back when de Villiers hit Mendis to long-off, but they could not rein South Africa in as much as they would have wanted. Amla hung around to reach his hundred - the 13th of his career and second against Sri Lanka - before Miller aided by Ryan McLaren took the total past 300.

For all the talk of a slow surface, Sri Lanka's brisk beginning banished any concerns it would hold them up. Kusal Perera enjoyed the pace of Dale Steyn and cashed in on a poor line from Vernon Philander to take Sri Lanka past 50 inside eight overs. He picked out Morne Morkel at short fine leg to give Philander a wicket but with Sangakkara next in, South Africa's relief was short lived. He was off the mark with a straight drive for four, an ominous sign of what was to come, but it would only come later.

Sangakkara slowed down and took his time to settle in, while Dilshan kept the innings moving. He treated Imran Tahir with disdain - not hard to do given the full tosses the legspinner was dishing up. It seemed South Africa's premier spin option would unravel, but smart captaincy ensured he did not.

De Villiers took Tahir off after two overs and brought on the quicks to deal with Dilshan. Morkel had him caught behind and by the time Tahir was reintroduced, the scoring rate had cooled. With the first ball of his second spell, Tahir had Mahela Jayawardene caught behind and his confidence swelled.

In his next over, Tahir lured Ashan Priyanjan forward and the outside edge was caught at short third man. Sri Lanka reached the halfway stage needing 165 runs to win but with Sangakkara at the crease, that did not seem impossible.

Despite Angelo Mathews giving his wicket away, Sangakkara ushered Lahiru Thirimanne through a tricky period and kept up with the required run-rate with one eye on the looming clouds. Sangakarra announced his intent to get within the Duckworth-Lewis score with three successive fours off McLaren, who lost his line as he came under attack.

Thirimanne should have simply held up his end but he tried to emulate Sangakkara and target McLaren. He was bowled while trying to hit across the line and his dismissal exposed the Sri Lankan tail. McLaren also had Sangakkara's scalp when the batsman skied one to extra cover, with the hosts 88 away from the target. Tahir and Steyn cleaned up the tail, and Sri Lanka had been dismissed in 40.3 overs.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    Amla my man made istikhara and mashwera before accepting the captaincy role, so dont doubt his ability to lead SA as captain. he will do a great job. Sanga and Amla are both great batsmen no need to compare them, i do however believe Amla at the moment is the greatest ODI batsmen and whats remarkable is his strike rate of 90. outstanding, masha Allah. Amla make us proud .

  • Kay on July 10, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    @Mike_Tyson: Maybe you should check the stats again before you make ludicrous statements. Saying Amla is miles ahead of Sanga just shows how ignorant you are. And if you went by stats, if Sanga played more in Aus and NZ he might very well average about 10 runs more in each format.

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2014, 0:23 GMT

    Now guys will understand that a person is not a match winner it is the team support that make your good inns count towards victories.............All a batsman can do is score big at good SR which Amla did today & Sachin did so many times............then it is upto bowling to defend it..........& it is bowler's job to receive par manageable totals more often then not but Indian bowlers concede 70 runs above par totals on all pitches making good inns of Indian batsmen go in vain & Indian batters receive the title of being selfish accumulators, not match winners

  • amit on July 8, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    @nickexplore - It's not just about numbers. Amla is miles ahead of Sanga as a batsman. You can knock atleast 10 runs of Sanga's average if he were to play more in Aus, SA Eng and NZ.

    His average has been massively helped by playing on the flattest of tracks in SL. SL are a very poor team. Sanga although a very good batsman is not better than Amla.

  • Nick on July 8, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    @ Hamza Khan, Amla better than Sangakkara?

    For the record, Sangakkara averages 58.63 in Tests, one of the highest in history, with 36 centuries and 48 fifties. Against Amla at 51.35 with 21/27.

    In ODIs, Sangakkara averages 40.61 with 19 hundreds and 86 fifties. Against Amla at 54.06 with 13/23.

    In T20Is, Sangakkara averages 31.40 to Amla's 25.

    Further, Sangakkara is the only player in world cricket who averages more than 50 in Tests, more than 40 in ODIs and more than 30 in T20Is.

    The numbers speak for themselves.

  • Nimmie on July 8, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    young age in closing doors for inconsistent batters with known history for reckless hitting that have tested more than required. Though it has been proved, this reckless hitting at the top is a complete failure even in our WC success of 1996(2 openers failed 10 times out of 12 inns between the 2, if not for solid risk-free batting of Aravinda,Mahanama,Hashan there wouldn't have any WC win for SL. Had they included RoshenSilva,Chandimal,AngeloPerera & S'nanayake in the 2011 WC team instead of the henchmen we have had a strong possibility of winning that too.), the selectors still want too many reckless hitters as front-line batters and other henchmen.STATS REFER CRICINFO

  • Nimmie on July 8, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    The selector of recent times weren't intelligent nor educated enough to pick the young. If they have had that ability to comprehend the importance of bringing in youngsters of Amla's class, maintained consistency throughout their careers both at School&Domestic, we would have placed at a far better position in all forms of the game, than at present. For information of all I give below the ODI Aves of the Chief Selector and 3 seniors how they have performed in their 1st 25 ODI Ings as middle-order batters as well as Front-line batters in comparison with Chandimal. In his 1st 25 Ings as Front-line batter Chandimal average read as 47.05. The same of Chief Selector, Mahela, S'kara & Dilshan are 21.70, 28.16, 26.62 & 47.95 respectively. As a Middle Order Batter, Chandimal's average is only 18.09 the same of Chief Selector, M'ela, S'kara & Dil are 10.08, 19.17, 25.52 & 25.05 respectively. It is up to Selectors to bring in promising young batters with remarkable consistency from young

  • Nimmie on July 8, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    A PART OF MY EARLIER COMMENT IS MISSING THAT ENDS WITH M'ela, Dil,…S'kara (his improved batting, after 600 odd international innings is quite immaterial,) & H'rat aren't needed in this Team, since we have enough quality youngsters (maintained consistency throughout their careers). A time when all other countries(e.g. if one had checked 1st Cla Ba Aves of all young bats of 2 Indian Teams touring ENG & AUS at present, he may learned that they all have Ba Aves around 50) try fresh hands of good 1st Class Careers, we have always gone for rotten eggs in the recent past. As I have mentioned many times, the selector is very much ignorant of his planning for the future, since they are yet to realize the importance of playing youngsters maintained consistency throughout their careers.You have to pick players on consistency basis as the way almost all other top countries do. It is consistency of a player that matters most because he is the one you can depend on at all times in all conditions.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    Alma is far better player than Sangakkara. Sangakkara is riding on its form but alma throughout the career perform s well.Sri may lost the series because of Sa full strength.

  • Sheethal on July 8, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Looking @ the way SL has been performing @ home for the last 5-6yrs just winning 1 Test series against Pak... If ABD & Amla were to fire for rest of the series, i'm quite sure that SA will whitewash SL in both formats this time around!!!!

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