ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Results: South Africa Ease Past Sri Lanka in Opener

Stuart Newman@@StuNewmanSportFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2017

South Africas Imran Tahir (R) celebrates, with South Africas Chris Morris, running out Sri Lankas Suranga Lakmal for a duck during the ICC Champions Trophy match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at The Oval in London on June 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

South Africa kicked off their ICC Champions Trophy 2017 campaign with an impressive 96-run victory over Sri Lanka at the Oval, London.

Opener Hashim Amla notched up his 25th ODI century in a stunning innings for the Proteas, slogging 103 from 115 deliveries to put his side well on their way to their 299 for six total after 50 overs.

Sri Lanka responded well and had South Africa shaking at times, but they could only muster 203 for nine as their challenge faded, with quick-fire wickets early on  halting momentum.

South Africa now sit top of Group B ahead of Sunday's clash between India and Pakistan. Here's a look at the remaining group fixtures from across the competition:

      

Sunday, June 4: India vs. Pakistan (Group B)

Monday, June 5: Australia vs. Bangladesh (Group A)

Tuesday, June 6: New Zealand vs. England (Group A)

Wednesday, June 7: South Africa vs. Pakistan (Group B)

Thursday, June 8: India vs. Sri Lanka (Group B)

Friday, June 9: New Zealand vs. Bangladesh (Group A)

Saturday, June 10: England vs. Australia (Group A)

Sunday, June 11: India vs. South Africa (Group B)

Monday, June 12: Sri Lanka vs. Pakistan (Group B)

For the full tables and schedule visit the ICC website

            

South Africa Too Strong for Sri Lanka

South Africas Imran Tahir (C) celebrates with teammates taking the wicket of Sri Lankas Asela Gunaratne for four runs during the ICC Champions Trophy match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at The Oval in London on June 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Saturday's clash of two ODI giants was always going to be a tense and close battle, but when South Africa came in to bat at the start of the match, they showed they meant business.

Amla was handling everything the Sri Lankan order could throw at him, and although Quinton de Kock fell for just 23, captain Faf du Plessis stepped in and steadied the ship in expert fashion.

Du Plessis managed 75 runs from his 70 balls on the innings, but it was Amla who did the real damage. With five fours and two sixes, the former skipper put together a match-winning display.

His 25th career ODI century also put him into the top five for ODI 100s, level with Kumar Sangakkara in fifth, as per ESPNcricinfo:

Amla's wicket eventually fell with South Africa on 232 for five, but J.P Duminy was there to pick up from where his opener left off by smashing 38 off 20 deliveries with five fours and a six to bring up the 299 for six total.

When Sri Lanka came in to bat, they absolutely had to get off to a fast start if they were to stand any chance of chasing South Africa down, and openers Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga duly obliged by bringing up 50 in double-quick time.

Dickwella eventually fell with Sri Lanka on 69, but Tharanga was still going strong and soon posted his half century.

However, around the 100 mark, the Sri Lankans started to get the jitters. After sitting pretty on 94 for one, they were soon a little hot under the collar as it became 117 for four in the blink of an eye, and South Africa looked to put the match to bed early.

Sri Lankas Lasith Malinga is bowled by South Africas Kagiso Rabada for one run during the ICC Champions Trophy match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at The Oval in London on June 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

A strong performance from Kusal Perera kept Sri Lanka pushing towards their target, but the South African bowlers were just too hot to handle. They lost three quick wickets as they approached the 200 mark to effectively end their challenge.

Imram Tahir picked off four for 27 with the ball and continued his impressive form, setting himself up nicely for the remaining group fixtures.

South Africa have only failed to progress from the group stage twice in ICC Champions Trophy history, and they laid the foundations for yet more success with an impressive opening performance in London.

Should they find a way past Pakistan on Wednesday, they'll be in great shape to go through once again, with only reigning champions India in their way of a perfect record.

Sri Lanka face India next time out needing a win to stand any chance of emerging from the group.