Tahir stars as Proteas thrash Sri Lanka

Imran Tahir (Getty Images)
Imran Tahir (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The Proteas have won their opening game at the Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka by 96 runs, with Imran Tahir playing a starring role.

As it happened: Proteas v Sri Lanka

Tahir took four wickets, ripping the heart out of the Sri Lankan middle order and getting South Africa back on track after a frenetic start to the Sri Lankan innings.

Chasing 300 to win, Niroshan Dickwella and opening partner, Upul Tharanga took a few overs to get going but then launched a blistering attack on Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell, with both bowlers flying to the boundary regularly.

In fact, after just eight overs, Sri Lanka had raced to 68 without loss, forcing Proteas captain, AB de Villiers, to turn to his most experienced bowler, the returning Morne Morkel.

And Morkel struck immediately, removing the dangerous Dickwella (41) with his second ball, caught at third man by Parnell.

He was replaced by Kusal Mendis who showed aggressive intent from the start by blasting two boundaries off Morkel. 

He didn't last long though, falling to a brilliant catch at short mid-wicket by De Villiers off Chris Morris for 10. 

De Villiers was involved in the next wicket as well, executing a perfect throw to run-out the dangerous Dinesh Chandimal for 12 in Tahir's first over.

It became a double wicket over just three balls later when Tahir trapped Chamara Kapugedera for a duck. 

The South African spinner went off on a mad dash to the boundary in what has now become his trademark wicket celebration.

All of a sudden, the Proteas had Sri Lanka at 117/4 and with so many overs in the bank for Tahir, they must have felt they were on top.

Tahir struck again in his fourth over, this time removing Sri Lankan captain, Upul Tharanga, for 57. 

He soon added Asela Gunaratne for just 4 for the impressive figures of 3/18 off six overs to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 155/6 after 30 overs.

A partnership of 36 followed between Seekkuge Prasanna and Kusal Perera until Prasanna (13) was trapped LBW by Morris.

Lakmal was out in the same over thanks to a run out with man of the moment Tahir throwing the stumps down. At 191/8, Sri Lanka were pretty much done and dusted.

Lasith Malinga (1) followed, chopping on a delivery from the returning Kagiso Rabada onto his stumps.

Tahir then ended the Sri Lankan innings on 203, removing Nuwan Pradeep for 6 with Kusal Perera unbeaten on 44.

The South African leg spinner ended with 4/27 in 8.3 overs and deservedly won the man of the match award.

Earlier, the Proteas' total of 299/6 had been built on the back of Hashim Amla's 25th one-day international ton, a brilliant 75 from Faf du Plessis and a quickfire 38 at the end of the innings by JP Duminy.

Next up, the Proteas face Pakistan on June 7 while Sri Lanka are up against India on June 8.

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