Lungi Ngidi’s early strikes and Imran Tahir’s dominance in the middle overs helped the Proteas bowl Sri Lanka out for 231 at the Bullring. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
The Proteas fielded a relatively fresh side in the first ODI at the Wanderers. With the World Cup less than three months away, it was surprising to see the regular stalwarts missing from the side – Hashim Amla not in the squad and Dale Steyn left off the team sheet.
Lungi Ngidi was superb with the ball on his return to the national set-up. He reduced Sri Lanka to 34-2 by removing Sri Lanka’s openers, Niroshan Dickwella (8) and Upul Tharanga (9).
Oshada Fernando (on debut) resurrected his side’s innings with Kusal Perera, as the pair built a 76-run partnership. Tahir was brought into the attack and struck with Sri Lanka on 99 when he found Kusal’s outside edge after the batsman had scored 33.
Tahir caused more havoc when Mendis knocked a delivery to David Miller at mid-wicket, but the run wasn’t on and Fernando was run out by Quinton de Kock after a well-played 49.
The rest of the innings was about squeezing Sri Lanka and finding a way to pick up wickets to keep the visitors on the back foot.
Tahir showed why he is regarded as the Proteas’ No 1 strike bowler. Dhananjaya de Silva (39) and Kusal Mendis (60) pushed Sri Lanka from 101-4 to 195-5 with the wicket of De Silva, and Tahir made it 210-6 by removing the danger man Mendis.
A run-out and a wicket in an eventful over by Kagiso Rabada shifted the momentum further in the home side’s favour as Akila Dananjaya and Thisara Perera were sent packing. This saw Sri Lanka go from 99-2 to 213-8.
It took Nortje five and a half overs to take his first international wicket and it came at last when he found Lakshan Sandakan’s edge, although the nick almost died on De Kock behind the stumps, as Sri Lanka were reduced to 219-9.
Ngidi wrapped up the Sri Lanka innings to finish with 3-60 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 231 with three overs remaining.
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