Sri Lanka routed South Africa by 278 runs in record fashion wrapping up the first test by the fourth day on the back of a 10-wicket match bag by Dilruwan Perera as the visitors, chasing 352 for victory, were shot out for 73 which is their lowest ever total and the lowest in Sri Lanka with more than a day to spare at the Galle International Stadium.
If Man of the Match Dimuth Karunaratne hogged the initial limelight with his 158 and 60, the 35-year old Perera let loose the magic with the ball in a test match that had the opposition stuttering at wits end unable to read flight and turn on a Galle trajectory that Sri Lanka has historically dominated. It was the Lankans 18th test win at Galle as Perera added to his first innings 4 for 46 with 6 for 32 on a day veteran spinner Rangana Herath too made this test match memorable by achieving the personal milestone of becoming the ninth highest wicket taker with 423 wickets ending up with a match bag of 5 for 78. In doing so the 40-year old surpassed South African Shaun Pollock’s 421 wickets.
The host team were all out for 190 in the second innings with Angelo Mathews going on to compile a dour 35 inclusive of a boundary and a six and Suranga Lakmal a breezy 33 off 46 balls with 5 boundaries. Soon after, the South African batting fell apart like nine pins with Diruwan Perera starting the rot having Elgar stumped by Niroshan Dickwella for 4 and master batsman Hashim Amla for a duck caught by Dhananjaya de Silva in the third ball of the eighth over of the innings. It was sweet timing for Perera who accounted for the Proteas prize batsman in both innings with the opposition reduced to 2 for 16. He went on to account for T. Bavuma for 2 who was again held by Dhananjaya and South Africa had slipped to 24 for 3 in 11.4 overs. From the mopping up operation was a formality as the Proteas found the twin spin attack too much to cope with as Herath added his second wicket that of F du Plessis who was held by Mathews for 1. He reached the magical milestone of 423 test scalps when he claimed Dale Steyn for 2.
The rest of Perera’s victims were De Kock for10, Maharaj (9), and Rabada for a duck and when Lakshan Sandakan took the final wicket of Shamsi the victory tidings set in as the Lankans savored the moment in all ecstasy. It was a fitting celebration in going 1-up in the 2-match series given the minus factors the host team braved on getting there with regular captain Dinesh Chandimal, Team Manager Asanka Gurusinha and Head Coach Chandika Hathurusinghe sidelined by a two-match ban.
By Srian Obeyesekere