HASHIM AMLA completed back-to-back centuries in ODIs against Sri Lanka to set the Standard Bank Proteas up for a 96-run victory in their opening Pool B ICC Champions Trophy match at The Oval in London on Saturday. Amla had made 154 in his previous match against Sri Lanka in the final Momentum ODI at SuperSport Park earlier this year and this latest edition was his 25th three-figure score in this format, placing him fifth on the all-time list. It almost goes without saying that he is the fastest to this mark. He was eventually run out for 103 (115 balls, 5 fours and 2 sixes) but not before he had shared a second-wicket record stand with Faf du Plessis (75 off 70 balls, 6 fours) for the Proteas against Sri Lanka of 145 which was one better than the previous best of 144 he had shared with Jacques Kallis. It was his fourth century against Sri Lanka which is also a record against that country. This stand was more than twice any other partnership in the match and set up the Proteas total of 299/6 which at one stage looked like running out of steam until JP Duminy hit a quick-fire 38 not out off 20 balls (5 fours and a six). Sri Lanka bowled exceptionally well to keep their target down to 300 and they threatened the Proteas during an opening stand of 69 in only 8.2 overs between Niroshan Dickwella and stand-in captain Upul Tharanga. Dickwella made 41 of those off 33 balls with 5 fours and a six. But the combination of a brilliant catch and run out by AB de Villiers and the business as usual Man of the Match, Imran Tahir, snuffed out Sri Lanka’s hopes as they nosedived to 155/6 with Imran finishing with 4/27 in 8.3 overs plus a run out. It was a vital victory for the Proteas although not a perfect one and they will be looking for more consistency from the seam attack as they get ready to take on Pakistan in Birmingham on Wednesday. The margin of victory was also important as net run rate may come into the equation in deciding the semi-finalists, particularly if bad weather raises its ugly head.

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