After Sri Lanka’s recent low scoring T20I series against India, few expected the opening ODI of this series to see nearly 600 runs scored. But the Colombo pitch served a surprise as both the teams’ weakness in batting was nowhere to be seen.
The increasingly impressive Avishka Fernando played the anchorman and got support from Dhananjaya de Silva (44) and Charith Asalanka (72) as the Lankans amassed 300 to post a sizable target for the guests.
What was impressive was the complete disregard of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje’s pace by the hosts. Rabada was bled for 66 runs in his nine overs and picked up two wickets, whereas Nortje conceded 69 in his 10 and went wicketless.
The hosts were lucky that South Africa had one batter (captain Temba Bavuma) retired hurt. Even after that the African’s run chase was going strong as at various junctures they were 155-1 and 209-2 before losing way in the final five overs.
There will still be a few concerns for Sri Lanka heading into the second ODI. Their lower order did no contribute much while a majority of their bowlers – with the exception of Praveen Jayawickrama – were ordinary.
Most of South Africa’s mistakes and problems occurred when they were in the field in the first innings. To begin with, the team selection was off, with Bavuma having just five specialist bowlers at his disposal.
Rabada and Nortje bowled a bit too short and were punished while Tabraiz Shamsi struggled for control. Keshav Maharaj was excellent though and easily the best bowler of the entire match as he conceded just 30 runs in his 10 overs and also got two frontline batsmen out.
The Proteas, however, will be encouraged by the fact that all six of their specialist batsmen contributed in double figures and there were signs that their batting – their Achilles heel of late – won’t be as problematic on this tour.
Bavuma copped a blow to his thumb and developed swelling. It appears unlikely that he’d be involved in the second ODI.