SEVERAL of South Africa’s batsmen got starts but no-one could push on to the requisite big total as they lost today’s first ODI against Sri Lanka by 180 runs.
It was a poor performance in new coach Russell Domingo’s first game in charge, the only redeeming feature being that it can hardly get any worse. South Africa can thankfully put the performance behind them and concentrate on building confidence and momentum as the brief tour of Sri Lanka continues. The absence of Hashim Amla due to injury left a void in their upper order and the spinners will begin to find their lengths and the appropriate speed at which to bowl in the remaining four ODIs.
Chasing Sri Lanka’s mammoth 320 for five, JP Duminy hit the ball with customary sweetness before feathering a thin edge to ‘keeper Kumar Sangakkara off Shaminda Eranga for 15, while AB de Villiers, who also looked polished, played around one from Rangana Herath for a hopeful 23.
Alviro Petersen, who was still there at that stage, was flicking off his legs and working well through the leg side before he, too, perished, caught behind off Thisara Perera for 29. His namesake, Robbie, also moved to 29 before being well caught by Upul Tharanga on the deep mid-wicket fence as he failed to control a spliced pull. With his dismissal went the Proteas’ slim chances of an improbable victory. This one is best quickly forgotten.
Sri Lanka’s imposing total was built on the back of Kumar Sangakkara’s majestic 169 (137 balls) with useful contributions earlier in the innings from Tharanga (43) and Mahela Jayawardene (42).
The left-handed Sangakkara paced himself to perfection, accumulating steadily before exploding in the second half of his innings. He played with a combination of audacity and intelligence, flaying the Protea attack to all corners. His sixteenth ODI hundred came up with a pull through mid-wicket off Duminy as the South African bowlers found it increasingly difficult to set fields to him or curb his attacking instincts. He was finally caught by Duminy on the long-on boundary off the persevering Aaron Phangiso
For the Proteas, Morne Morkel, who bowled in several sharply effective bursts, took two for 34, including the wicket of the elegant Jayawardene, while McLaren took one for 69, probably a better bowling performance than it looked. Between them, the spinners – Peterson, Phangiso and Duminy – bowled 21 overs but they were largely innocuous.