Proteas cruise to victory in One-Day series opener against Sri Lanka

Captain Faf du Plessis

South Africa enjoyed their first win over Sri Lanka since the Lions’ tour began in mid-February – with two tests – on Sunday when captain Faf du Plessis scored his 11th One-Day International (ODI) century to help them to a comfortable 8-wicket victory in the first of five matches at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

Du Plessis and company avenged the loss they suffered by the same margin in the last match between the two sides, the second test at St. Georges Park, Port Elizabeth last week, and helped themselves to a confidence-boosting 1-0 lead in the process. Du Plessis, who won the man-of-the-match award for his troubles, shared a third-wicket partnership of 82 runs with Rassie van der Dussen (32 not out) to help South Africa reach the target of 232 runs in just 38.5 overs. The captain, after being dropped on 32, made Sri Lanka pay by hitting 11 fours and a six to reach his unbeaten 112 off 114 deliveries. The only wickets the hosts lost were those of Reeza Hendricks, who was caught behind off the bowling of Vishwa Fernando for 1, and Quinton de Kock, who, after scoring a swashbuckling 81 off just 72 deliveries, was trapped leg-before-wicket off Akila Dananjaya.

Earlier, Sri Lanka, after being put in to bat first, were dismissed for a paltry 231 in 47 overs after just one of their batsmen, Kusal Mendis, managed to score a half-ton. Oshada Fernando came close though, being dismissed for 49 after he was run-out by David Miller. Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi, who enjoyed his first international match after coming back from a long-term injury, took three wickets each, while Kagiso Rabada (who also accounted for the run-out wicket of Dananjaya) and debutant Anrich Nortje, took one apiece.

Du Plessis reserved special praise for Tahir, who turns 40 towards the end of this month, at the post-match presentation, after his standout figures of 3-26 in his ten overs which included a maiden. “Immy bowled brilliantly today, I thought that’s the Immy of old, the number one Immy we know – didn’t give anything away so good to see that, that’s good signs for us. He has probably been my biggest weapon as a captain over the years … the key to one-day cricket is obviously to strike with the ball and he does that quite regularly.”

Meanwhile, Quinton de Kock, after scoring his 19th ODI half century, also received kind words from his leader. “He’s a big player. If he’s scoring runs in the manner that he is, he always puts the bowlers under some real pressure so it’s always nice to be there with him, he makes the flow of batting very easy.”

The second match between the two teams will be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.