South Africa vs Sri Lanka (Champions Trophy)

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Magnificant Dilshan Puts South Africans to the Sword

Match 1: Group B – Centurion. Sri Lanka 319/8 (50 overs) Dilshan 106, Jayawardene 77, Sangakkara 54, Steyn 3/47, Parnell 3/79 beat South Africa 206/7 (37.4 overs) Smith 58, Kallis 41, Mendis 3/30 by 55 runs (D/L method)

south africa vs sri lanka champions trophyThe ICC Champions Trophy had an explosive start at Centurion yesterday when a Tillakaratne Dilshan inspired Sri Lanka comfortably defeated their South African hosts by 55 runs at Centurion Park after rain brought a premature halt to proceedings with South Africa 206/7 in response to Sri Lanka’s 319/8.

The result leaves the Proteas, who lest it not forget are ranked as the number one team in the ICC ODI rankings, with a tough battle ahead to qualify for the semi-finals of their own tournament. Victories will be required against New Zealand and England to avoid a repeat of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa when the home side failed to progress past the first round – ironically after a tie with Sri Lanka in another rain affected match at Kingsmead. Yesterday South Africa looked like a team playing its first competitive match since their World T20 semi-final defeat to Pakistan on 18th June making a number of uncharacteristic mistakes in the field and with only Dale Steyn (3/47) looking sharp with the ball.

Sri Lanka, fresh from a Test series against New Zealand and also a triangular ODI series with the Kiwis and India, looked like a team brimming with confidence and if Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene with the bat, and Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga with the ball continue to perform as well as they did yesterday then they must have a good chance of winning the competition.

After losing the toss and being put in, Sri Lanka made a flying start despite the early loss of Sanath Jayasuriya who was leg before to Steyn for 10 in the third over. Dilshan and Sangakkara then compiled a magnificent stand of 158 with the former exhibiting a fantastic array of strokes including the infamous Dil-scoop on his way to a third ODI century off only 87 balls. Sangakkara played the straight man to Dilshan’s joker in making 54 from 74 balls. Unlike England, Sri Lanka are a team that makes use of the powerplays and the 100 came up in only the 13th over, with Wayne Parnell, who was preferred to Makhaya Ntini, proving particularly expensive.

Despite losing Sangakkara and then Dilshan (106) in quick succession, former captain Mahela Jayawardene (77 off 61 balls) and Thilan Samaraweera (37 off 47 balls) built on the excellent platform that had been provided to them. The two added 116 taking Sri Lanka just shy of 300 before departing in consecutive balls to a grateful Parnell (3 for 79). Once they had gone wickets fell at regular intervals in the last four overs with Sri Lanka setting South Africa an extremely challenging 320 to win under lights.

Initially Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis had South Africa up with the required run rate with Smith reaching his 50 off only 40 balls and the two adding 81. However, with the Proteas 90/1 after 14 overs, Sangakkara turned to Mendis and within his four overs the contest was effectively over as first Smith (58) and then Kallis (41) and JP Duminy (0) succumbed to Murali’s nominated successor as the Sri Lankan spin king. Mendis now has 71 wickets in 34 ODI at an astonishing average of 15.18. Malinga (2/43), Sri Lanka’s other wild card, then removed the dangerous AB De Villiers (24) and Johan Botha (21) with Angelo Matthews (2/43) adding Mark Boucher (26) to his earlier scalp of Hashim Amla (2) so that when the rain came in the 38th over, South Africa needed an unlikely 114 off 12.2 overs. The rain denied Albie Morkel (29 not out) the chance to write his name in infamy but if the South Africans are honest they will acknowledge that they were well beaten by a well drilled opponent.

Today the second match of the tournament sees Pakistan kick off Group A against the West Indies. With Younis Khan ruled out by a hairline fracture of the little finger on his right hand, Pakistan will be led by Shahid Afridi. However, the strife torn West Indians should not provide too much of a test for the talented Pakistanis. Thanks to the ongoing dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board there is no Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shiv Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo or Fidel Edwards as well as a host of other first team players. Led by the unheralded Floyd Reifer, the West Indies will do well not to embarrass themselves.

Match 1: Group B – Centurion. Sri Lanka 319/8 (50 overs) Dilshan 106, Jayawardene 77, Sangakkara 54, Steyn 3/47, Parnell 3/79 beat South Africa 206/7 (37.4 overs) Smith 58, Kallis 41, Mendis 3/30 by 55 runs (D/L method)

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