Visibly hurting after a shock 2-0 loss in the Test series, the hosts put their best foot forward in the first game. The bowlers led by Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi's three-wicket burst bowled Sri Lanka out to 231. Faf du Plessis' 11th ODI ton and Quinton de Kock's belligerent 81 then headlined the chase as South Africa romped home with plenty to spare.
Du Plessis, who admitted their team had taken the loss to Sri Lanka in the Tests quite hard, will be expecting a similar show from his side at SuperSport Park, in Centurion.
The Proteas ticked almost every box in the first game, be it bowling, batting or catching. Ngidi back after almost three-and-a-half months struck early to provide the hosts with an excellent start. Anrich Nortje looked impressive on debut while Kagiso Rabada was his usual menacing self.
Tahir then weaved his magic in the middle overs returning figures of 2/26 in his ten-over spell days after losing the national contract. Tahir later revealed that he would call time on his ODI career after the 2019 World Cup which means du Plessis will not have his "biggest weapon" for much longer at his disposal.
“I would love to play for as long as I can, but there is a stage in your life where you have to make big decisions. This is one of those big decisions, it is definitely the biggest decision of my life," the leg-spinner said while announcing his decision to retire.
The 232-run target was never going to be daunting but du Plessis and de Kock ensured there were no slip-ups after Reeza Hendricks departed early. Rassie van der Dussen also then came in and did his job in taking the team through along with his captain. South Africa will want to replicate the performance come Wednesday on a ground where they have been quite successful. The Proteas have a winning percentage of 64.1 at SuperSport Park and have won seven out their last 10 encounters at the venue.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, after consistent performances through the Test series looked a bit ragged in Johannesburg. While Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga failed to fire, Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva were all guilty of frittering away good starts. A collapse which saw the visitors lose their last six wickets for just 36 runs further complicated matters.
The Islanders have in the past been guilty of such collapses a sentiment which was resonated by their captain Lasith Malinga as well. "We lost wickets at a crucial time. It was hard to capitalize after that. The set batsmen in the middle have to take the responsibility of finishing the match. They have to finish the innings well," Malinga remarked after the game.
With not a lot of experience in the middle order, Dicklwella and Tharanga's role at the start becomes undoubtedly important. They have been around the circuit for a while and will need to lay a strong foundation for the likes of Mendis, Perera and de Silva to capitalise on. Thisara Perera will also need to come up with a better effort with both bat and ball than in the first ODI.
The bowling will largely revolve around Malinga, who even though not as penetrative as he was in his prime is still a handful. He will hope the likes of Vishwa Fernando and spinners Akila Dananjaya & Lakshan Sandakan back him up. While Dananjaya back after correcting his action looked in decent touch, Sandakan was way off colour in Johannesburg. He was also guilty of dropping a fairly regulation chance when du Plessis was on 32 and it remains to be seen whether Sri Lanka opt for the ambidextrous Kamindu Mendis in the coming games.
There is a bit of rain in the radar in Centurion on Wednesday but the ODI is expected remain unaffected. Sri Lanka have won just one game in five attempts at the venue an will be keen on changing that record.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis(c), Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga(c), Avishka Fernando, Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Angelo Perera, Oshada Fernando, Kamindu Mendis, Priyamal Perera, Isuru Udana, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan
dale steynFaf du PlessisImran Tahirkusal mendisLasith MalingaODI cricketQuinton de KockSouth Africa vs Sri Lanka
First Published: March 5, 2019, 2:58 PM IST