Du Plessis, Phehlukwayo and Ngidi brush aside Sri Lanka
Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews made fifties for Sri Lanka but they were dismissed for 251 in pursuit of 339
The Report by Ankur Dhawan
South Africa 338 for 7 (du Plessis 88, Amla 65, Lakmal 2-63) beat Sri Lanka 251 (Karunaratne 87, Mathews 64, Phehlukwayo 4-36, Ngidi 2-12) by 87 runs
As warm-up matches go, South Africa couldn't have hoped for a better one. Nine of their batsmen, including their allrounders, had a hit and eight of them surpassed double figures. Hashim Amla found form with 65 off 61 balls, captain Faf du Plessis blazed to 88 off 69 balls, before cameos from Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris hauled them to an imposing 338.
Lungi Ngidi, South Africa's highest wicket taker in ODIs last year, then showed no signs of letting up, warming up for the World Cup with a testing opening burst. Phehlukwayo bookended his 35 off 34 balls with four wickets, ensuring a South Africa win despite fifties from Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews.
The surface had a tinge of green, prompting Karunaratne to insert South Africa but it was only in the second innings, when the quicker, taller and more skillful South Africa bowlers had their turn that it played anything like the Sri Lanka captain might have imagined. There was a point during the first eight overs that took you back a few years, with the ball hooping around at pace, regularly threatening the outside edge and keeping the two slips and the gully in business.
It was the kind of situation Karunaratne might have relished in a Test, but here the asking rate kept climbing with every play and a miss. After getting off the mark with three off his first ball, he managed only three more off his next 20 balls, before breaking free with back-to-back fours off first-change bowler Chris Morris.
Kusal Mendis was more fluent at the other end, capitalising on some short bowling with the field up, and Sri Lanka found a release when Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada were taken off, as they recovered well from the early loss of the openers. The recovery was only brief, however, as Mendis, after looking a million dollars, threw away the opportunity, walking across a straight ball from Phehlukwayo to be caught plumb in front for a 31-ball 37 that included six fours.
Karunaratne started finding the boundary with a little more regularity after Mendis' dismissal, and in Mathews' company, triggering memories of the famous Durban heist earlier this year. But just when they brought the equation within the realm of possibility, Karunaratne holed out off Rabada to deep square leg for 87 off 92 balls. Mathews batted on comfortably to raise his fifty but had little support at the other end as four out of the next five batsmen managed just seventeen runs between them. Mathews himself fell to Duminy for 64 and with him went Sri Lanka's hopes.
Earlier, du Plessis was happy to be batting first under presumably tougher conditions with some cloud cover above. But South Africa's top order was largely untroubled with the openers Aiden Markram and Amla racing to 47 in the seventh over, before Markram was caught behind slashing at a wide one from Suranga Lakmal for 21. Their progress stunted briefly but not considerably as du Plessis took time to settle and the run-rate hovered under six at the end of the 14th over. After that spin was introduced and Sri Lanka suffered as they not only leaked runs but Avishka Fernando was taken off the field on a stretcher after he seemed to have twisted his ankle diving to his left at cover in the 18th over. However, scans cleared him of any serious injury and he should be available for Sri Lanka's next warm-up, as should Isuru Udana, who was struck on the bowling wrist in his followthrough later in the innings.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka's persistence with spin finally paid off when Jeevan Mendis had Amla bowled through the gate with a googly in the 24th over and three balls later Dhananjaya de Silva had du Plessis holing out to long-off. Those wickets prompted a change in tactic as Sri Lanka shortened their lengths, choking the flow of runs, albeit marginally by making them hit to the longer square boundaries. It allowed Sri Lanka breathing space but some late hitting from Morris took South Africa to a total that was well beyond Sri Lanka's reach.