Courtesy International Cricket Council:
Sri Lanka scored its ninth Test match win outside the sub-continent and probably the most significant ever when they outclassed South Africa by 208 runs with a full day to spare in the second Test at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Thursday.
It was a stunning fightback by the tourists who lost the first Test by an innings and they now go to the third Test matchstarting at Sahara Park Newlands on Tuesday with everything to play for.
Having broken their Test match losing streak in South Africa, they will now believe they can go one better and win their first series here.
“Sri Lanka outplayed us in every department,” commented Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith, “on a pitch that suited their style of play. We were poor from day one and we now need to find a way to bounce back in the third Test.”
The Proteas, set a victory target of 450, again produced a disappointing top order performance and at one stage it looked as though they might be bowled out for less than their first innings record low score of 168.
AB de Villiers (69 off 141 balls) and Dale Steyn (43 off 125balls) delayed the inevitable with a seventh wicket stand of 99 before the end came quickly against the second new ball.
The fading light caused Sri Lankan to bowl with their spinners but Man of the Match Rangana Herath would probably have bowled in any event. The harder ball gave him a bit more pace and bounce off the pitch and he finished with an innings return of 5/79 and a match return of 9/128.
The Sri Lankans produced nearly all the stand-out cricket in the match with Thilan Samaraweera and Kumar Sangakkara both scoring centuries,debutant Dinesh Chandimal getting half-centuries in both innings and both Chanaka Welegedara and Herath claiming five-wicket hauls.
Very few of the Proteas can feel satisfied with their performances. Hashim Amla scored half-centuries in both innings but did not take it on to something substantial. Marchant de Lange had an excellent debut with a first innings return of 7/81 while Steyn collected his 17thfive-wicket haul in his 50th Test match.
The batsmen would do well to reflect on the fact that Steyn made second top score in the first innings and third top score in the second. He has only been dismissed three times in four Test matches (one a run out) and has an average for the year in the mid-30s.
The Proteas have not scored a century in the current series and it is something that needs to be addressed before next week.