Kumar Sangakkara smashed his highest one-day international score of 169 off 137 balls as Sri Lanka thrashed South Africa by 180 runs in the first one-day international in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Saturday.
The veteran left-hander’s 16th one-day century steered Sri Lanka to a commanding 320-5 after the hosts were sent in to bat in the day-night game at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
South Africa were shot out for 140 in reply, the innings lasting just 31.5 overs, to leave Sri Lanka with a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Thirty-five-year-old Sangakkara chipped in with two catches and a stumping, earning him the man-of-the-match award, as Rangana Herath and Thisara Perera picked up three wickets each.
Sangakkara celebrated his 350th one-day international match by surpassing his previous best score of 138 not out against India in 2005, after Tillakaratne Dilshan fell cheaply in the fourth over.
Sangakkara put on 70 for the second wicket with opener Upul Tharanga (43), 74 for the third with Mahela Jayawardene (42) and 123 for the fourth in which Lahiru Thirimanne’s contribution was just 17.
He finally holed out in the deep in the penultimate over of the innings, after 18 boundaries and six sixes.
Sangakkara said the two-paced wicket was not easy to bat on at the start.
“It was about staying there and building the innings,” Sangakkara said. “I stuck in there, and there was good support from Upul and Mahela.”
South African captain A.B. de Villers said the huge defeat was hard to accept, but vowed to fight back.
“It is not the end of the series,” De Villiers said. “I know my boys will fight back. There are not a lot of positives we can take from the game, but we can only improve from here. We were way below par, but I know what the players are capable of. We will come back because we want to win the series.”
Fast bowler Morne Morkel, who recovered in time from a thigh injury to play the match, was South Africa’s most impressive bowler with two for 34 from his 10 overs, but the inexperience of the depleted touring squad told in the end as Sri Lanka batted fluently and bowled a steady line on the slow pitch.
South Africa are without three frontline players — fast bowler Dale Steyn, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and former captain Graeme Smith — for the tour which also includes three Twenty20 matches.
The tourists also missed premier batsman Hashim Amla, who was unavailable for the first match due to a strained neck.
South Africa made the worst possible start when Colin Ingram was bowled off the first ball of the innings by sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga.
De Villiers and Alviro Petersen added 44 for the third wicket to lift the total to 73-2 when both batsmen fell in successive overs.
Wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals, leaving Alviro Petersen and Robin Peterson as the top-scorers with 29 each.
The second match is to be played at the same venue tomorrow.