Imran Tahir's economical three-wicket helped bowl Sri Lanka out for 231 at the Wanderers Stadium. Faf du Plessis then entertained the crowd with a classy 112 in 114 balls as the hosts chased the target down in a mere 38.2 overs.
Electing to field first Lungi Ngidi, back after almost three-and-a-half-months, got rid of both Sri Lanka openers Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga in consecutive overs. He struck with just his fourth ball of the innings drawing Dickwella into a false shot for 8. He then got rid of Tharanga in the very next over castling the left-hander for 9 as Sri Lanka slipped to 23/2 in 3.4 overs.
Kusal Perera and debutant Oshada Fernando then did well to resurrect the innings with a solid 77-run stand for the third wicket. Oshada was the more industrious of the duo as he smashed Ngidi for a four straight down the ground to get his boundary counter running and then creamed Rabada for a four and a six soon after.
Perera struck four fours during his 36-ball 33 before Tahir removed him in his first over with a googly that caught the left-hander's outside edge through to the wicket-keeper.
Oshada struck the ball firmly in a run-a-ball 49 which also included two lofted drives over the ropes. He was lucky that South Africa did not appeal for a caught behind off Ngidi when he was on 24. Replays showed a faint edge. But he fell just one short of a half-century when he was run out in a mix-up with Kusal Mendis.
Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva took the innings forward in a 94-run stand for the fifth wicket. After initially being circumspect the duo opened up and at one point looked like taking Sri Lanka to a more than formidable score. Mendis brought up his half-century off just 55 deliveries but the wicket of de Silva soon after brought about a rather unwanted collapse for the visitors.
It was Tahir who got South Africa back into the game getting rid of both set batsmen in quick succession. He first had de Silva stumped when he stretched forward and was beaten by a leg break while soon after Mendis who made 60 off 73 balls with five fours and a six, was caught at extra cover.
That started a procession as Sri Lanka lost their last six wickets for just 36 runs to be bowled out in 47 overs. Tahir was easily the pick of the bowlers for the hosts returning figures of 3/26 in 10 overs while Ngidi also enjoyed a good comeback to the national fold finishing with 3/60.
South Africa did not have the best of starts to their chase losing Reeza Hendricks (1) in the second over to Vishwa Fernando. The opener looking to force an off-drive got an inside edge which was snapped up brilliantly by Dickwella who caught it inches off the ground diving to his left.
However, de Kock and du Plessis ensured that was Sri Lanka's only success at least for a while. Both batsmen matched each other shot for shot making each and every bowler pay stitching a 136-run stand for the second wicket in a shade over 21 overs. Du Plessis clobbered 15 runs in a de Silva over to reach his 32nd ODI fifty, while De Kock too soon reached his 19th ODI half-century with a whip through midwicket.
It was Akila Dananjaya who finally broke the stand trapping de Kock in front of the stumps but not before a lot of the damage had already been done. The left-hander struck 11 fours in a belligerent 72-ball 81 making sure a solid foundation was built.
Du Plessis though carried on to soon reach his 11th ODI ton with a punch down the ground. He had a stroke of luck on when on 32 Lakshan Sandakan put down a relatively simple chance at short third man. That was the only blemish in an otherwise stunning innings. In all, he slammed 15 fours and a six in his knock and along with Rassie van der Dussen (32*) put on an unbeaten 82-run stand for the third wicket
First Published: March 3, 2019, 8:58 PM IST