Run-machine Hashim Amla struck his 25th ODI century to guide South Africa to a challenging 299 for six against Sri Lanka in a Group B match of the ICC Champions Trophy here on Saturday. Du Plessis reached his fifty off 52 deliveries and a strong platform was laid for the middle order.
South Africa's second-wicket pair steadily picked up the pace thereafter and it took a fine catch from Dinesh Chandimal at midwicket to remove Du Plessis for 75, Pradeep claiming his second breakthrough. South Africa captain AB de Villiers said he would also have chosen to bowl first.
In reply, Sri Lanka were all out for 203 runs with still 8.3 overs remaining.
Timely wickets from Imran Tahir has made South Africa favourites to win the match as spinner Imran Tahir's four-for left the Sri Lankan team reeling in the 300-run chase.
"They bowled exceptionally well, and credit to our openers for seeing it out". But after Dickwella was dismissed, giving a catch to Wayne Parnell at third man off paceman Mornie Morkel, Tharanga ran out of support.
The win will likely now make South Africa favourites in their group but it certainly isn't an easy one - tomorrow the two other sides in the group meet in Birmingham, India and Pakistan.
While Amla completed his fifty in 56 deliveries, du Plessis reached the half-century in 52 balls.
Rohit Sharma top-scored with 91 and put on 136 for the first wicket with Shikhar Dhawan (68).
South Africa scored just 44 runs in 12 overs when Quinton de Kock was caught behind off Nuwan Pradeep, and the medium-pacer nearly had his second wicket shortly after as du Plessis, on 8, skied a hook shot into the leg side.
That it got to 299 eventually was down to JP Duminy's late cameo of 38 not out from 20 balls.
First De Villiers leapt with ideal timing to catch Kusal Mendis at short midwicket with one hand just as the ball seemed to have cleared him. ICC sanctions stipulate players lose 10 per cent of their match fee for each of the first two overs, then a further 20 per cent of their match fee for each additional over they are behind time.
As soon as Morne Morkel (1-31) was tossed the ball to take over from Rabada, he had Dickwella caught in the deep.
"Not only with the ball in hand but that run-out".
Du Plessis managed 75 runs from his 70 balls on the innings, but it was Amla who did the real damage.
Sri Lanka skipper and all-rounder Angelo Mathews has been forced to sit out during South Africa match, after scans revealed some days ago he´d suffered a calf strain.
South Africa's next game is against Pakistan on Wednesday at Edgbaston, while Sri Lanka will look to bounce back in what will be an even harder task against India at the Oval on Thursday.