Faf du Plessis’ magnificently measured ton secured an eight-wicket win for the Proteas in the first ODI against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
It was a comfortable victory for the Proteas at the Bullring after the Proteas decided to pick only five specialist batsmen, but the decision paid off as they won the toss, elected to bowl first and restricted Sri Lanka superbly in their innings.
There was a debut on the cards for speedster Anrich Nortje, while Dale Steyn was left out of the XI. Hashim Amla was left out of the squad to find some form playing for the Cobras in the One-Day Cup, and this move saw Reeza Hendricks slot in at the top of the order.
A clinical bowling performance was highlighted by early strikes from Lungi Ngidi (3-60) on his return from three months on the sideline recovering from injury, as well as sensational bowling from Imran Tahir (3-26).
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The Proteas’ chase was dented only by Hendricks’ wicket, as he departed in the second over after scoring just one run.
Du Plessis joined De Kock at the crease and the pair batted superbly in tandem. They strung together 136 runs to take the Proteas to 150 before the wicketkeeper-batsman was trapped leg before by Akila Dananjaya after an entertaining 72-ball 81 with 11 fours. This partnership gave Du Plessis the platform he needed to get settled in.
With the Proteas well ahead of the required rate, Rassie van der Dussen rotated the strike with his skipper as they took their time to chip away at the remaining runs for victory.
Van der Dussen (32 off 43 balls) showed level-headedness to play a supporting role as Du Plessis brought up his 11th ODI century.
Sri Lanka will be disappointed with the outcome, especially in light of the reprieve enjoyed by the Proteas skipper after Lakshan Sandakan dropped him when he had just 32 runs to his name.
The Proteas secured their victory with more than 10 overs in hand, Du Plessis ending unbeaten on 112 off 114 balls with 15 fours and a six.
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