Veteran Tahir keeps Sri Lanka in check


JOHANNESBURG: Veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir struck three crucial blows for South Africa in the first one-day international against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

Tahir took three for 26 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 231 after being sent in on a good batting pitch.

Tahir, who turns 40 later this month, was not included among Cricket South Africa’s contracted players, announced last week. But he showed he remains a key member of the country’s one-day bowling attack, twice breaking promising Sri Lankan partnerships.

Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi, playing in his first international match since suffering a knee injury in November, took two early wickets before Kusal Perera (33) and Oshada Fernando (49) put on 76 off 78 balls for the third wicket.

Tahir was brought into the attack and had the left-handed Perera caught behind off a googly during a first spell of one for 18 in seven overs.

Kusal Mendis, who top-scored with 60, added 94 for the fifth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva (39) before Tahir dismissed both batsmen in the first two overs of his second spell.

De Silva was stumped when he stretched forward and was beaten by a leg break and Mendis, who made his runs off 73 balls with five fours and a six, was caught at extra cover.

Oshada Fernando, making his one-day international debut, struck the ball firmly in a 49-ball innings and hit two lofted drives for six. He was lucky that South Africa did not appeal for a catch behind off Ngidi when he was on 24. Replays showed he had got a faint edge to the ball. But he was unlucky to fall short of a half-century when he was run out, responding late to a call for a sharp single from Mendis.