Colombo: Opener Hashim Amla smashed 109 and Ryan McLaren took two wickets in three balls as South Africa thrashed Sri Lanka by 75 runs in their first one-dayer on Sunday.
Amla, 31, hit eight fours in his composed 130-ball knock and shared a 151-run third-wicket stand with skipper AB de Villiers (75), helping the visitors post a formidable 304-5 at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
Kumar Sangakkara responded with a fine 88 off just 84 balls but Sri Lanka were still bundled out for 229 off 40.3 overs.
The hosts appeared headed towards victory at one point. But paceman McLaren dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne and Sangakkara in the 38th over to trigger a collapse that saw Sri Lanka lose their last five wickets for just 13 runs.
"We had a bad day at the office. The South Africans played better cricket and we were really rusty," said Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews.
"After the start we got, the middle order made some poor shot selection and that cost us the game."
Spinner Imran Tahir was a tad expensive but emerged as the highest wicket taker for the visitors, finishing with 3-50 from seven overs.
The visitors had got off to a steady start after winning the toss, putting on 58 before losing two batsmen in quick succession.
Opener Quinton de Kock was bowled by Mathews (1-30) for 27 which included a mighty six over mid-wicket off spinner Sachithra Senanayake (1-49).
Just two balls later, unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis (3-61) trapped star all-rounder Jacques Kallis leg before wicket with his trademark carrom ball for a duck, to reduce the Proteas to a shaky 60-2.
'We fought well'
But Amla and de Villiers made light of the twin setbacks and steered the innings to a position of strength with their 141-ball stand.
"We fought really well and I am really proud of our first innings here. I thought the guys recovered really well," said de Villiers.
"We are very motivated to win our first series here, things have started really well and we'll have to go really hard in the next few games," he said.
The victory Sunday was only South Africa's third in 17 one-dayers against the hosts in Sri Lanka.
Amla, named the new Test skipper last month, was in top form although he was dropped on 49 by Thisara Perera at long-on.
The opener also saw an appeal under the Decision Review System go in his favour, with replays remaining inconclusive about whether he had nicked to the wicketkeeper while trying to go for a hook shot.
At the other end, de Villiers played a sparkling knock, his 75 coming off just 70 balls with the help of five fours and a six.
De Villiers, who was also dropped on 17, was out when he chipped a simple catch to Nuwan Kulasekara off Mendis.
David Miller (36 not out) and Ryan McLaren (22 not out) then unleashed some hard hitting in the final overs to take the visitors to their highest ODI total in Sri Lanka against the hosts.
Amla, named man of the match, completed his 13th ODI century before being trapped in front of the middle stump by Mendis. He hit eight fours and a six.
It was his second ton in two days after he hit a century in a practice game against a Sri Lankan President's XI on Friday.
The second ODI will be played in Pallekele on Wednesday, followed by the third and final match in Hambantota on Sunday.