Sri Lanka defeated South Africa comprehensively by 199 runs with more than a day to spare to make a clean sweep of the Hero Cup 2-test series overcoming a sixth-wicket rear guard resistance that briefly threatened to stall the hosts. It was all over by 1.22 p.m. on the fourth day at the SSC grounds and a jubilant skipper Suranga Lakmal hailed the result and the series triumph saying ‘all our hard work of intensive training ahead of the series paid off.’
“We knew from the start that we could win by outplaying South Africa through spin which is their weak point,” said Lakmal at the post-match conference in the wake of three successive back to back test match wins that started against Bangladesh in the final test there.
Man of the Match and Man of the Series Dimuth Karunaratne said, “I worked hard on my batting after injury and my motto to play to win was the success formula. I am looking forward towards further intensive training during the break before the next home series. I believe in continuity towards staying in good nick”
The hero on the fourth day was veteran spinner Rangana Herath who broke the fierce resistance of the sixth wicket pair of Teunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma who put on 97 runs in the session when he sent back Bavuma caught behind for 63. He went on to finish with the splendid figures of 6 for 98 on a day the South Africans did have the consolation of seeing Teunis de Bruyn scoring a fighting 101.
South Africa’s overnight batsmen of Teunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma mounted strong resistance adding 97 runs consuming 32.1 overs in the first session that threatened to further blossom when Rangana Herath got the much needed breakthrough with the total on 236. In an opening session that South Africa threatened to stall with skipper Suranga Lakmal trying out six overs Herath had Bavuma nicking a delivery to wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella. Bavuma made 63 off 98 balls in 130 minutes hitting 4 boundaries. At that stage Teunis de Bruyn was on 84, the due having posted 123 runs for the sixth wicket, the best by a South African pair in the series. The Bruyn-Bavuma partnership did bring on the sunshine in a long, long time for the touring team on resumption of the fourth day that was expected to wind up early. That is going by the dictates of the series thus far where the South Africans had melted like butter at the hands of the Lankans who had skinned the opposition in maximising to the hilt the home spin advantage. The ending of the sixth wicket resistance saw Sri Lanka comeback with the gate opening for a further breakthrough within 16 deliveries when Herath claimed the second wicket of the day trapping Quintin de Kock leg before wicket for 8 in the penultimate ball of the over before lunch and South Africa were 246 for 7 in 75.5 overs consuming 286 minutes with Sri Lanka leading by 244 runs. De Bruyn did put on the smiles on South African faces reaching the magical three figure mark flicking Herath for a boundary for 101 off 228 balls and 285 minutes inclusive of 12 boundaries, but two deliveries later was clean bowled by Herath to a and going to hit the leg stump. From there the mopping up operation became a ritual when three deliveries later Dilruwan Perera had Rabada snapped by Angelo Mathews in the slips for 18 and the total was 280 for 9 in 80.2 overs. The clean up came when Herath induced Steyn to loft one to mid-off where Dhanushka Gunathilaka took a superb running catch.
South African captain Faf du Plessis, said that his team had to contend with the handicap of spin friendly sub-continent wickets where Asian countries are known to exploit. “Apart from the spin advantage to sub-continent host teams, I would say that the tests finishing this side of five days is because of the fast forward factor of T20 cricket that has had a bearing on test cricket,” he contended.
Meanwhile, Teunis de Bruyn said, “Believing that you can in any situation spurred me on as well as the advice from the pavilion including my skipper who advised me to bat positive and force the field to spread. I did so but discovered how long it takes to get a hundred on these wickets.”
Sri Lanka 338 and 275/5 decl.
South Africa 124
And 290 All out (86.5 Overs)
(Teunis de Bruyn 101, Temba Bavuma 63, Dean Elgar 37, Rangana Herath 6/98,
Akila Dananjaya 2/67, Dilruwan Perera 2/90).
Man of the Match: Dimuth Karunaratne
Man of the Series: Dimuth Karunaratne
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-