Imran Tahir took three wickets in 15 balls to help restrict Sri Lanka to 181 in 48.3 overs in the first ODI against South Africa in Port Elizabeth.
AB de Villiers put the visitors in to bat in a fierce wind, believing there was some ‘juice’ in the wicket, and was rewarded with two quick strikes by Wayne Parnell. But it was the wily variation of the leg-spinner that crushed their hopes of a fighting total. He ended his 10-over spell on 3-26.
Kusal Mendis had done much to repair the damage, taking the score from 14-2 to 86-2 when Tahir struck for the first time. Five overs later, they were deep in trouble at 102-5.
It had taken just seven balls for South Africa to make an impact. Parnell, who needed to redeem himself after a wayward performance in the T20s, kept his first delivery dead straight bowling into the wind, to trap Niroshan Dikwella lbw.
Just to show his intent, he struck with the first ball of his second over, when debutant Sandun Weerakkody edged a weak shot to slip.
Mendis played a beautiful innings to repair the damage, waiting for the one ball he could put away. He did this effectively for his first 28 runs, all of which came from boundaries before he deigned to take a single. It says much for the bowling that he was able to add just two more on his way to his fifty off 74 balls.
It was exactly explosive, but at least a foundation had been laid, until Tahir produced the almost-perfect googly to bowl Dinesh Chandimal. He had laboured through 55 balls for his 22 (1×4).
Mendis was to follow four overs later for 62, lbw to a Tahir delivery that stayed straight. Two laters over the captain, Upal Tharanga, chipped straight to cover and Tahir was off on his celebratory run around the field.
Quick thinking by Quinton de Kock engineered the run-out of Asela Gunaratne (10) at the bowler’s end and another brilliant diving catch by the keeper to dismiss Nuwan Kulasekara (17) put Sri Lanka on the slide. Parnell returned to have Dhananjaya de Silva well taken by Faf du Plessis as he tried to hit over the top, ending with 3-48.
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images