South Africa’s tailenders put on a gritty effort that was led by Vernon Philander to fight off Sri Lanka’s spinners to snatch a thrilling draw in the second Test and seal a 1-0 series win at Colombo on Monday (July 28).
The series victory ended South Africa’s jinx of 21 years in Sri Lanka, after winning a series in the island in its first tour in 1993. South Africa won the first Test in Galle by 153 runs.
Chasing 369 for a win, South Africa was struggling at 148 for 8 in the final session of the Test, but Philander (27 not out) and Imran Tahir (4 not out) hung on in the final nine overs to finish at 159 for 8.
Starting the final day at 38 for 1, South Africa added just 121 runs in 94 overs in the day. It chose to play for a draw instead of chasing a win, and quite a few overs being lost due to rain helped its cause.
Rangana Herath led the pack of spinners who gave it their all. He returned figures of 5 for 40 from 45 overs, and was well-supported by Dilruwan Perera, who grabbed 3 for 60.
Hashim Amla occupied the crease for close to three hours despite a hamstring trouble, making 25 from 159 balls. Amla, in his first series as Test captain, faced 57 successive dot balls at one stage, but was finally dismissed by Perera, who had him caught by Mahela Jayawardena in the fourth over of the final session.
Jayawardena then picked up his 200th Test catch after he caught Faf du Plessis (10), giving Herath his fourth wicket of the innings.
Herath then trapped JP Duminy lbw, and then dismissed Dale Steyn with just 20 minutes left for close of play, raising Sri Lanka’s hopes.
Earlier, Dean Elgar was dismissed by Perera in a rain-marred first session where only 17 runs were scored in seven overs. In the second session, Herath bowled AB de Villiers after picking up de Kock (37).
At tea, South Africa looked steady with Amla and du Plessis at 104 for 4, but Sri Lanka’s spinners struck at regular intervals to cause damage. Sri Lanka posted 421 in its first innings, and had bowled out South Africa for 282 to gain a 139-run lead. it declared its second innings on 229 for 8.