Proteas bounce back to thump Sri Lanka
Captain Du Plessis leads the way with a century as SA put Test whitewash behind them
SA may have looked fragile during the recent 2-0 Test series whitewash defeat to Sri Lanka but seem to have recovered after they roared back to form with a comprehensive eight-wicket win over the same opponents in the first of five ODIs at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
Captain Faf du Plessis was in sparkling form with a professional century while Quinton de Kock also contributed handsomely with a half century.
Rassie van der Dussen delivered an unbeaten 32 while Lungi Ngidi and Imran Tahir returned with three wickets apiece to unshackle themselves from the Test series embarrassment that drew widespread criticism.
This impressive all-round team performance‚ that was achieved with 67 balls to spare‚ will give Du Plessis‚ who ended unbeaten on 112 for his 11th ODI century‚ and his troops confidence going into the second match at SuperSport Park on Wednesday.
This is the Proteas’ last series at home and they have two ICC World Cup warm-up matches against Sri Lanka and the West Indies in Cardiff and Bristol before they open the tournament against hosts England on June 5 at the Oval in London.
Du Plessis won the toss and put Sri Lanka in to bat and Ngidi‚ who was making a long-awaited return from a knee injury‚ and Tahir took a combined six wickets as the Proteas restricted the visitors to a below par score of 231 after 47 overs and they replied with 232/2 after 38.5 overs.
SA managed to overcome a poor start to the chase when they lost opener Reeza Hendricks (1) in the second over after he was caught by Niroshan Dickwella off the bowling of Vishwa Fernando.
Du Plessis arrived at the crease under some pressure but managed to put together a match-winning partnership of 136 with De Kock to lay the foundation for this much-needed win.
Their partnership was finally broken when De Kock was trapped in front by Akila Dananjaya having scored an impressive 81 off 72 balls but Du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen‚ with a solid partnership of 82‚ stayed together to guide the Proteas over the line with ease.
Besides Ngidi and Tahir, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje returned with one wicket apiece as Sri Lanka surrendered on 231.
Ngidi accounted for the scalps of Niroshan Dickwella (8)‚ Upul Tharanga (9) and skipper Lasith Malinga (15) and Tahir removed Kusal Perera (33)‚ Kusal Mendis (60) and Dhananjaya de Silva (39).
Rabada and Nortje were responsible for the dismissals of Thisara Perera (7) and Lakshan Sandakan (3).
Their fielding was also impressive as debutant Oshada Fernando was run out one run shy of his maiden half century by a combination of David Miller and De Kock as a result of a mix-up with Mendis.
Another impressive performance on the field ensured the dismissal of Dananjaya (0) when he was run out by a combination of Van der Dussen and Rabada.