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South African seamers too hot to handle on Wanderers green top

South Africa new ball bowlers Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock shared seven wickets to condemn Sri Lanka to a comprehensive six-wicket defeat in the opening One-Day International at Wanderers on Wednesday.

The visitors were forced to relive their Wanderers nightmare in the first Test earlier in the month as they were bowled out for a meagre 128 on a green and bouncy pitch ill-suited to the limited overs game.

Sri Lanka's new ball bowlers also made early inroads, quickly seeing off openers Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith. Rookie fast bowler Prabath Nissanka then dismissed Boeta Dippenaar and Justin Ontong to leave the home side wobbling on 56 for four.

However, by the afternoon the devil in the pitch had been largely been burnt away by the strong African sun, and South Africa eventually cruised to victory thanks to an unbroken 73 run partnership between Jacques Kallis (38*) and Mark Boucher (45*) for the fifth wicket, winning with 20.3 overs to spare.

During the Wanderers Test Sri Lanka were bowled out for 192 and 130 and the groundsman - whose preparations for this game had admittedly been hampered by mechanical problems to his two rollers - manufactured a similar seamers' paradise here.

This game had been used as a dummy run for the World Cup with the introduction of stringent security checks and a complicated traffic control system. Those arrangements ran smoothly but there will now be concerns that a similar surface is not produced for the World Cup final in March.

That is not to say that Sri Lankans were not culpable. On the contrary, they batted poorly. They may well have fought back bravely and aggressively at Centurion in the second Test, but the reality is that they remain alarmingly vulnerable on overseas pitches.

To the credit of the South Africans, especially Pollock and Ntini who bowled superbly, they exploited the surface expertly after winning a crucial toss in the morning. Before the majority of the 12,000 strong crowd had chewed their first biltong of the morning, Sri Lanka had crumpled to 30 for five.

Middle order duo Mahela Jayawardene (31) and Russel Arnold (28) briefly raised the tourists' hopes with a fighting 65 run partnership for the sixth wicket, but after Ntini broke through in his second spell the South Africans soon mopped up the tail.

Ntini claimed three for 22 from his 10 overs and Man-of-the-Match Pollock finished with four for 18 from 8.4 overs when he trapped last man Pulasthi Gunaratne lbw to wrap up the innings in the 47th over.

Marvan Atapattu had started the morning's capitulation when he was caught behind off a lifting delivery that jagged back to brush his inside edge. Debutante Jehan Mubarak lasted just ten balls before being palpably lbw to a Pollock inswinger.

Jayasuriya - back in charge but not form after an ankle injury - drove one boundary through the off-side before being caught at third man from a characteristic off-side slash.

Sangakkara - Sri Lanka's sledger in-chief at Centurion - completely mistimed a back-footed drive and was caught in the covers, and veteran Aravinda de Silva completed a woeful first hour for the tourists as he feathered a catch behind.

Fortunately Arnold, who had been in wretched form during the Test series, scoring just runs in four innings, was able to temporarily halt the slide with assistance from Jayawardene, preventing an embarrassingly early finish.

Pollock's decision to call back Ntini for a second spell brought instantaneous success as Arnold was caught off a leading edge. That was followed soon after by the dismissal of Jaywardene, who was brilliantly caught one-handed in the gully by Gibbs off a full-blooded cut stroke.