As well as his four-for, Tahir accelerated Sri Lanka's demise on Saturday with a superb direct hit from mid-on to run out Suranga Lakmal at the striker's end - all the more impressive considering he is not known for his fielding aptitude. After sitting pretty on 94 for one, they were soon a little hot under the collar as it became 117 for four in the blink of an eye, and South Africa looked to put the match to bed early.
With Tharanga also batting confidently through those overs, it seemed inconceivable that Sri Lanka would not at least mount a muscular challenge to South Africa's total.
Down the order, Kusal Perera (44 not out) gave some resistance but Sri Lanka lost wickets in a heap to be all out for 203 in 41.3 overs.
South Africa play their opening match in Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka on June 3.
Captain AB de Villiers welcomed the duo's return, particularly Tahir who is the Proteas' highest wicket-taker in the past year with 35 scalps at an average of 24.37.
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South Africa's Morne Morkel made the first breakthrough when he dismissed the unsafe Niroshan Dickwella for 41 after the Sri Lanka opener's attempted drive down the ground resulted in a comfortable catch for Wayne Parnell at third man.
"Sri Lanka always play well in these tournaments", said De Villiers.
South Africa skipper AB de Villiers has hailed the "amazing" Hashim Amla after the Proteas opener set yet another batting record by becoming the fastest player in history to reach 25 ODI hundreds.
He removed Kusal Mendis by plucking a drive out of the air one-handed, and then expertly dived and threw in one movement to run out Dinesh Chandimal.
With Mathews expected to miss out with a calf injury the attention will turn to Upul Tharanga to lead the side upon the return of Lasith Malinga - the swing bowler having not played ODI cricket since 2015.
Pakistan qualify for ICC Champions Trophy final
Moreover, this edition saw 3 hundred-run stands for opening wicket, again the joint-most along with 2002. Arthur also said England was a team "playing unbelievably well" and "with no apparent weaknesses".
"We worked really hard at that part of our game, and very happy with the way it went today", de Villiers added.
"He's an incredible player and a great asset for us", de Villiers said.
The pressure they created could have earned more rewards, but Lasith Malinga failed to get a hand on a Faf du Plessis top edge when he was on only eight.
It allowed Amla and du Plessis to build a partnership and they paced the innings well mixing ones and twos with occasional boundaries. "He's got four or five days before the next game to get ready".
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