| Allan Donald (right) and Mark Boucher celebrate the wicket of Dilhara Fernando in the first one-dayer in Johannesburg Wednesday. (Reuters)
Johannesburg: South Africa captain Shaun Pollock gave a superb bowling display to set up an easy six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the first of five one-day Internationals on Wednesday.
Pollock, who won the toss and put Sri Lanka in on a suspect Wanderers pitch, returned figures of four for 18 in 8.4 overs, destroying the top order as the visitors limped to 128 all out in 46.4 overs.
He was ably supported by seamer Makhaya Ntini who took three for 22 in his 10-over spell. Sri Lanka, 30 for five after just 13 overs, could never recover.
“From the first over we knew there was something in the pitch and we discussed hitting the right areas and fortunately it went our way,” said Pollock, who questioned whether the Wanderers pitch should be used, as planned, for the World Cup final on March 27.
“I don’t think that would be a good wicket for the World Cup final,” Pollock said after earning the Man of the Match award.
“I think in a World Cup final you are looking for a spectacle and you are not going to get it on that unfortunately. You would want a better surface than that,” said Pollock
“Opportunities were always going to be created and we stuck to our task nicely. There weren’t too many four balls going around.
“As an opening partnership myself and Makhaya did a good job and for a side to fight back from that position was always going to be difficult.”
South Africa scored the winning runs in the 30th over with Mark Boucher unbeaten with 45 and Jacques Kallis on 38.
Ntini made the early breakthrough for South Africa when he claimed the wicket of Maravan Atapattu caught behind for one with the final ball of the second over.
With the first ball of the fifth over Pollock trapped debutant left-hander Jehan Mubarak leg before for two and in the next over, bowled by Ntini, Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya was caught at third man by Boeta Dippenaar for seven.
Kumara Sangakkara was next to go, caught by Justin Ontong in the covers for seven off Pollock in the 11th over. Two overs later, Pollock had Aravinda de Silva caught behind for 12.
Mahela Jayawardene (31) and Russel Arnold (28) cobbled together a 65-run sixth wicket partnership, devoid of flamboyance, but full of grit.
When Ntini was recalled to the fray in the 32nd over he wasted no time as his first ball found Arnold’s leading edge, sending the ball safely into the hands of Andrew Hall at mid-off.
Jayawardene followed soon after, brilliantly caught by Herschelle Gibbs at point off the bowling of Allan Donald who then removed Dilhara Fernando two balls later, caught behind by Boucher for a duck.
With the rest of the wickets falling quickly South Africa were left with the modest target.
Although they made a poor start with Gibbs being caught behind by Sangakkara for a duck off Chaminda Vaas in the first over, there was little doubt about the outcome once Kallis and Boucher got going.
Lanka skipper Jayasuriya said: “The ball was doing a lot and they bowled well in the first hour. But we know at the Wanderers that it’s not easy and there is a lot of grass on the wicket. If I had won the toss I also would have bowled first.”