David Miller and newly appointed stand-in skipper, Farhaan Behardien hit some lusty blows to take South Africa to 126/5 in a shortened 10 over game at Centurion. Sri Lanka got off to a brilliant start but lost their way in between to lose by 19 runs.
Dhananjaya de Silva and Nirosha Dickwella got Lanka off to a flier with an enterprising 59-run stand in 5 overs. Tahir dismissed them both in the sixth over to put the brake on the chase. Lungi Ngidi, on his debut, then produced a 4-run double-wicket over to win the game for the Proteas and in the process a Man of the Match award.
Brief Scores: South Africa 126/5 in 10 overs (Miller 40, Behardien 31) beat Sri Lanka 107/6 in 10 overs (Dickwella 43, Ngidi 2/12)
Result: South Africa won by 19 runs (Match reduced to 10 overs per side due to rain)
Man of the Match: Lungi Ngidi
Here’s a glance at some crucial moments in the first match of the three-match series.
#5 David Miller shows his firepower at no. 4
Farhaan Behardien had said before the match that he did not intend to waste Miller way down the order and that a promotion to no. 4 was imminent. Most of David Miller's scintillating knocks have come from up the order and this may have prompted the move.
Miller had also expressed his desire to stand up as one among the senior players in a new-look T20 team. He walked in at 30/2 and settled in, as is his style, before tonking Prasanna over long-on.
He went on to hit Matthews for a six and two fours in the same over before smacking Kulasekara into the grass banks. He was eventually dismissed by the seamer but not before he had hit 40 off 18 balls and took South Africa to a huge score.
#4 Farhaan Behardien's captaincy debut
It's not often that someone like Farhaan Behardien gets to lead his national team. Though very much a fringe player when the senior players are available, Behardien had shown his value to the side as a finisher.
Walking in at 5, he joined Miller, who was in a devastating mood, and the duo put on 51 in 4 overs to push South Africa to a huge score. Behardien was quick to hand over the strike to Miller but did chip in with a couple of fours off Pradeep.
In the 10th over, after Miller was dismissed, Behardien hit a four and a six, again off Pradeep, to cap off a fine performance with the bat on captaincy debut. He made an 18-ball 31 that helped Proteas to 126.
#3 Niroshan Dickwella does a Dilshan
Sri Lanka had been looking for a replacement for Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dickwella seems to have passed the audition with a quick fire 43 off just 19 balls, that set a firm platform for the Lankan middle order.
He started the blitz with a hat-trick of fours off a wayward Wayne Parnell, then proceeded to dump Phehlukwayo with a scoop that landed for six, followed by a four. By 3 overs, Lanka had already reached 40 and Dickwella had 26 of those to his name.
He proceeded to handle Tahir carefully before smoking him over cow corner off the last ball of his first over. Tahir, however, had the last laugh as he had Dickwella hitting straight to a deep fielder in the next over.
#2 South Africa's dropped chances
South Africa are a side that is electric on the field as they have athletic fielders and terrific catchers. The fielding was one among the highlights in South Africa's Test series wins against Australia and Sri Lanka. Yet their limited overs catching has not been up to the mark.
The fielders have been clumsy in limited overs cricket and this showed in crucial matches in the World Cup in 2015 and later in the World T20 in 2016. Even with a new look T20 side, the catching did not improve as Behardien and Tahir were guilty of dropping one each.
South Africa are chasing an elusive World Cup win and to do that, they need to buckle up in the field. Under pressure situations, their fielders have had butterfingers and this cannot help their cause. This would be one area for them to look back and correct before the next match.
#1 Lungi Ngidi revels on debut
The Titans fast bowler has been touted as the next Kagiso Rabada and if this T20 match is anything to go by, the youngster is pretty good. He has skiddy pace and bowled past the 140 mark more than once.
He opened the attack on his debut and despite de Silva pouncing on two good length balls, Ngidi was already making an impression with his pace and run-up. He was called back into the attack in the 8th over with Lanka at 87/3 and well on their way to chase down the score.
Ngidi forced Seekuge Prasanna to edge behind off a slash and then had the talented Kusal Mendis caught in the deep by some teamwork from Kuhn and Tahir. A double-wicket over that yielded just four runs literally put Lanka out of the game. He had figures of 2-0-12-2 to win the Man of the Match award.