South Africa captain Faf du Plessis hit an unbeaten century as South Africa cruised to an eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the opening one-day international in Johannesburg.
The hosts won the toss at the Wanderers Stadium, asked Sri Lanka to bat and bowled them out for 231, a total South Africa overtook with more than 11 overs to spare.
Du Plessis made 112 not out as South Africa cruised to victory and then praised veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir for ensuring South Africa chased a modest total.
Tahir took 3-26 in 10 overs as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 231 after being sent in on a good batting pitch. He twice broke partnerships that threatened to take Sri Lanka to a challenging total.
“He is probably my biggest weapon as a captain over the years,” Du Plessis said of Tahir.
But the captain added that early strikes by Lungi Ngidi, playing in his first international match since suffering a knee injury in November, had also been important.
“Imran bowled brilliantly in the middle overs today but it is really important to get wickets with the new ball,” Du Plessis said.
Ngidi took the first two wickets to reduce Sri Lanka to 23 -2.
Tahir, who turns 40 later this month, was not included among Cricket South Africa’s contracted players, announced last week. But he showed he remains a key member of the country’s one-day bowling attack with an immaculate performance.
Tahir ended a third wicket stand of 76 between Kusal Perera (33) and Oshada Fernando (49) when he had the left-handed Perera caught behind off a googly during a first spell of 1-18 in seven overs.
Kusal Mendis, who top-scored with 60, added 94 for the fifth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva (39) before Tahir dismissed both batsmen in the first two overs of his second spell.
Sri Lankan captain Lasith Malinga rued the failure of his batsmen to capitalise on good starts.
“We lost wickets at crucial times,” he said, pointing out that on both occasions when a promising partnership was broken the other “in” batsman had been dismissed almost immediately.
Fernando, making his one-day international debut, was run out one short of a half-century in Tahir’s next over after Perera’s dismissal.
Reeza Hendricks was caught behind off Vishwa Fernando in the second over of South Africa’s innings but Quinton de Kock and Du Plessis both batted aggressively against the new ball.
Du Plessis hit three successive fours off Thisara Perera and had raced to 32 in the eighth over when he was dropped, with Lakshan Sandakan putting down a relatively straightforward chance at short third man.
De Kock and Du Plessis were briefly slowed when Sri Lanka’s spinners came on but were soon scoring freely again in a second wicket partnership of 136 off 129 balls before De Kock was leg before wicket to off-spinner Akila Dananjaya for 81, made off 72 balls with 11 fours.
“Quinny is a big player,” said Du Plessis. “He puts bowlers under real pressure.”
Du Plessis went on to his 11th one-day international century and finished with 112 not out off 114 balls, with 15 fours and a six. He and Rassie van der Dussen (32 not out) took South Africa to victory with an unbeaten third wicket partnership of 82 off 96 balls.
Du Plessis was named man of the match.
Elsewhere, New Zealand won the first Test against Bangladesh by an innings and 52 runs as they overcame a brave fight from the tourists on Day 4 in Hamilton.
After racking up their highest Test score of 715-6 declared in the first innings, victory looked a formality for the Black Caps, with Bangladesh entering the day 307 runs behind with six wickets remaining.
But Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar had other ideas, both scoring centuries in a partnership of 235 that raised the prospect of the hosts having to bat again before Trent Boult removed Sarkar for 149.
Bangladesh’s last five wickets then fell for 68 runs, with skipper Mahmudullah making 146 in a second innings total of 429 as Boult took 5-123.
Sarkar was the aggressor, bringing up his ton in just 94 balls – equalling the record for the fastest 100 by a Bangladesh batsman – as the hosts were frustrated in the morning session.
The 200 partnership came in just 265 balls and when Mahmudullah brought up his century off 183, the unlikeliest of comebacks was looking a possibility.
Sarkar exited having made 21 fours and five sixes, playing across the line to be bowled by Boult.
Mahmudullah and Abu Jayed added 33 for the eighth wicket as Bangladesh battled to make the Kiwis bat again, but the stand-in captain’s exit after 21 fours and three sixes when he sliced Tim Southee to Boult at deep point meant the inevitable would not be delayed much longer.