Fifteen overs later they could count three centurions - one of them being a record for the fastest ever off just 49 balls.
Aiden Markram, the holder of that new record, doesn’t believe that it suddenly makes South Africa world beaters though. Or that his new World Cup mark is going to stand the test of time.
Instead, he is just grateful the Proteas were able to start the World Cup on a positive footing and not have to play catch-up.
“The way batters are playing nowadays, you wouldn’t be surprised if that record is broken in this competition as well,” Markram said.
“We’re known to start pretty slowly, be it in a series or maybe world events and things like that, so we put a lot of emphasis to start well and play the same cricket we’ve been playing that managed to sneak us into this comp.”
For much of these past four years this group of players, particularly the batting unit, have had to contend with the notion that they no longer possess the superstars of past Proteas teams such as AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla.
But yet the current top six is arguably among the most potent the Proteas have ever produced that boasts both the solidity of Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen alongside the explosiveness of Quinton de Kock, Markram, Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller.
Markram certainly feels that the hard work done upfront by the likes of De Kock and Van der Dussen, who shared a 206-run partnership for the second wicket, allows the middle order to express themselves like they did against Sri Lanka.
They also have fire burning within themselves to show the world they can stand up against the very best.
“It’s nice for us to be able to go through the gears as a unit. I think a lot of credit has to go to Rassie and Quinny for setting up that platform. It’s hard work always up front. They bowled well at the back end of the powerplay,” Markram said.
“I think there’s a lot of passion in this team to give our absolute all at this World Cup and see how far it can get us.”
Markram’s personal journey to this point has also not been a straightforward one. He’s had to transform himself into a powerful middle-order batter after fronting up to the new ball in one-day international cricket did not yield the desired results.
“I think you do try to evolve as a batter and it’s weird when you bump your head a few times, maybe exploring options that are not your plan A and are not necessarily your strengths,” Markram said.
“You have options as a batter, and each batter’s options will be quite different. But it’s about really committing to those options and backing them.
“And if it comes off, it’s fantastic. But if it doesn’t come off, at least you can sleep a bit better at night knowing you stuck to your strengths and to your options.”
Markram and the Proteas are not overly concerned that wicket-keeper De Kock did not take the field at all during Sri Lanka’s innings with Heinrich Klaasen performing duty behind the stumps as they expect him to be ready for Thursday’s clash against Australia in Lucknow.