Sri Lanka create a record in South Africa!
With a test-series victory in South Africa, Sri Lanka became the first Asian subcontinent country and the third team overall; after Australia and England, to register a series win in the African nation. The speculations of the pundits and experts called for an easy walkover by South Africa, given the recent results and team issues of Sri Lanka before the series.
The first test match played at Kingsmead, Durban was a testament to the fact that in cricket it’s not over until it’s over!!
Having won the toss, Sri Lanka opted to bowl first and bowled out South Africa for 235, with Quinton de Kock being the highest scorer with 80 runs. For Sri Lanka, Vishwa Fernando took four wickets and Kasun Rajitha scalped three wickets. In reply, Sri Lanka was bundled up for 191 in their first innings, with Kusal Perera scoring 51. Dale Steyn was the highest wicket-taker for the Proteas taking four wickets. In the second innings, with a lead of 44 runs, South Africa scored 259 runs giving Sri Lanka a massive target of 304 runs.
Sri Lanka managed to reach the target with just one wicket to spare, on account of a brilliant inning of unbeaten 153 runs by Kusal Perera and his tenth wicket partnership with Vishwa Fernando of 78 runs. Perera stuck to his ground for more than five hours and maintained a solid temperament to clinch one of the most remarkable victories in the history of cricket!
The second test match played at St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth was a chance for South Africa to square the two-match series. South Africa won the toss and elected to bat. They put up a total of 222 with contributions from Quinton de Kock (86) and Aiden Markram (60), with Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha grabbing three wickets each. The Sri Lankan inning was bundled out for 154 on account of some brilliant bowling by Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier who took four and three wickets respectively. With a 68-run lead, South Africa was looking to post an enormous total. However, due to the brilliant overall bowling performance by the Sri Lankans, with Suranga Lakmal and Dhananjaya de Silva sharing seven wickets between them. This performance halted the South African inning at just 128.
With 197 to win, Sri Lanka won the game with eight wickets to spare on account of steady batting by Oshada Fernando (75*) and Kusal Mendis (84*)
The complete team performance of the Sri Lankans not only silenced the critics but also proved most of the cricket pundits incorrect with their predictions. Such a massive win right on the brink of the upcoming World Cup will be a huge morale booster for them. On the other hand, South Africa needs to rethink on their strategies and concentrate on the ODI series against the same opponents.