Tillakaratne Dilshan struck a century and Ajantha Mendis grabbed three key wickets as Sri Lanka cruised to a 55-run win over South Africa on Tuesday in the opening Champions Trophy game. Opener Dilshan made 106 as his side reached 319-8 off 50 overs and spinner Mendis sent Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy packing as South Africa slumped to 206-7 when rain stopped play with 74 balls outstanding.
The Duckworth-Lewis method came into play and Sri Lanka emerged clear cut winners over opponents seeking a first ICC trophy since winning the inaugural Champions Trophy 11 years ago. Smith opted to send Sri Lanka into bat on a run-rich pitch in a gamble that backfired as many of his bowlers revealed rust in their first competitive ODI appearance since losing to Australia last April. Ranked the best ODI team in the world ahead of a two-week tournament second in importance only to the World Cup, South Africa must defeat New Zealand and England at the same venue this week or face a humiliating first-round exit.
"We batted very well by doing the basics properly and building partnerships, but we need to brush up on our bowling with which I am about 80 per cent happy," said victorious captain Kumar Sangakkara. Smith offered no excuses: "Tillakaratne and Kumar batted superbly and we must improve quickly and hopefully do a lot better. It is a question of getting the basics right." * AFP