Published: Tue, June 06, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Very close to 10 out of 10 - De Villiers lauds 'fantastic' Tahir

Very close to 10 out of 10 - De Villiers lauds 'fantastic' Tahir

Hashim Amla hit a century as South Africa set Sri Lanka 300 to win the opening Group B match at the ICC Champions Trophy.

Amla (103) and Faf du Plessis (75) steadied the ship with a 145-run stand for the second wicket before Du Plessis departed after misjudging a Pradeep delivery and was caught by a diving Dinesh Chandimal at midwicket.

On a sluggish surface, South Africa failed to fully capitalise on Amla's 25th ODI ton. After being invited by the Lankans to bat first, South Africa made a challenging 299, courtesy another brilliant century from Hashim Amla and invaluable contribution from Faf du Plesis.

Amla hit just five fours and two sixes for his 103 and faced 115 deliveries.

The duo scored at 6.74 runs in the 21.3 overs that they batted together.

Sri Lanka responded well and had South Africa shaking at times, but they could only muster 203 for nine as their challenge faded, with quick-fire wickets early on halting momentum.

Sri Lanka were excellent against South Africa´s seamers, but the introduction of Tahir derailed their innings.

India plundered 72 runs in their final four overs as Pakistan's attack wilted. "It was close to ten out of ten", said De Villiers.

The Sri Lankas were ruled to be four overs short of their target after time allowances were taken into consideration.

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Though the all-rounder was declared fully fit before the team's departure for the United Kingdom, a statement from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on Thursday revealed that Mathews suffered a "strain on the muscle".

South Africa have leg-spinner Imran Tahir and explosive batsman David Miller in their side capable of turning the outcome of the match at any moment.

South Africa captain AB de Villiers said Imran Tahir had earned the right to "go a little overboard" with his celebrations after a match-winning display against Sri Lanka on Saturday, and the ICC put their latest technology to good use by clocking the leg-spinner's top speed as he took off around the outfield.

Despite going wicket-less as his 10 overs went for 57 runs, Malinga maintains the ability to excite, and looked threatening as he went for just 14 runs in his first four-over spell.

Sri Lanka next face India on June 8, while South Africa will take on Pakistan on June 7.

It was a vital victory for the Proteas although not a flawless one and they will be looking for more consistency from the seam attack as they get ready to take on Pakistan in Birmingham on Wednesday.

Stand-in Sri Lanka captain Tharanga had elected to field and Pradeep made the breakthrough in the 12th over, tempting Quinton de Kock into chasing one outside off stump for 23.

"He's an fantastic player and a great asset for us", de Villiers said.

"I've spoken a lot about how key Imran Tahir is for South Africa, and I'd go as far to say that Imran is our greatest asset in ODI cricket", Smith wrote in his ICC column.

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