Tahir spins South Africa to big win over Sri Lanka

Tahir spins South Africa to big win over Sri Lanka

Tahir spins South Africa to big win over Sri Lanka

This century was his 25th and it took him 151 innings to get there, faster than anyone else. It was their decision to bowl first and, for the most part, they adhered to a sound game plan.

But Tahir's introduction into the attack changed the game - as did a couple of bits of AB de Villiers brilliance in the field - as the legspinner took 4-27 to help bowl Sri Lanka out for 203 inside 41.3 overs.

The Proteas captain removed Kusal Mendis by plucking a drive out of the air one-handed, and then expertly dived and threw in one movement to run out Dinesh Chandimal.

Sri Lanka have a regal lineage of spiky little wicketkeeper-batsmen and Niroshan Dickwella set off at a fine lick in their reply, walloping Wayne Parnell over cover and then punting Kagiso Rabada high over midwicket.

South Africa's success in this tournament rests on Tahir: a force of nature who works in mysterious ways yet with all the mystique of a bazooka. Captain AB de Villiers believes his side is ready to peak after the 2-1 series when they got defeated in front of England.

Lanka were in a spot of bother but they were well ahead of the Proteas in terms of runs at that stage.

Mathews already took a break from the worldwide cricket since January, underwent a fitness test on Friday afternoon and now it is sure that on this Saturday he can play the game before Sunday on the Oval match. Three balls later Chamara Kapugedera was lbw first ball to Tahir's excellent googly, never the greatest fate for an worldwide batsman.

Sri Lanka were 68/1 after 8 overs while the South African scoreboard read 27/0 after 8 overs. Batting first they posted a solid-looking 299, driven on by an effortlessly fine hundred from Hashim Amla, his 25th in one-day internationals, another high-class batsman showing the value of reading a pitch and accumulating with care. Opener Amla started cautiously before scoring 103 from 115 balls, sharing a 145-run second-wicket partnership with Faf du Plessis, who added a flamboyant 75 off 70.

Amla's wicket eventually fell with South Africa on 232 for five, but J.P Duminy was there to pick up from where his opener left off by smashing 38 off 20 deliveries with five fours and a six to bring up the 299 for six total.

When de Kock departed in the 13th over, South Africa were on just 44, but thereafter Amla and Faf du Plessis wrenched back control of the match.

The elegant left-hander nicked a full length ball off Pradeep in the slips.

The return of veteran pacer Lasith Malinga, whose unorthodox, slingshot action makes him one of the most hard bowlers to face in world cricket, seems to be the only boost for the Sri Lankans.

Plessis pulled one from Pradeep but managed only a top- edge, which flew to the fast bowler towards long on and he grassed it.

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