Well, it happened. The Lankans managed to whitewash the South Africans. At the end of the second day’s play, it almost looked like we were headed for another 3-day test match. The South African batsmen, although offered a bit more resistance in their second innings, failed to deliver once again. The Lankan spin trio in the form of Dilruwan, Akila and Herath took down the entire batting lineup in both innings.
Coming back from the Galle test nightmare, one would have hoped for a better fightback from the Proteas. But alas, the South Africans were all but helpless against the Lankan spinners, while the likes of Dimuth stood tall and dominated the batting pitch. A combined effort of excellent spin bowling and solid batting rewarded Sri Lanka with a 2-0 victory.
Sri Lanka posts 338 while Maharaj gets a nine-for
Batting first Sri Lanka posted 277 runs on the board, losing 9 wickets on day one itself. Earlier in the day, the opening pair Dimuth Karunaratne and Danushka Gunathilake scored a 116 for the first wicket, with both batsmen reaching the 50 mark. Following the loss of Dimuth and Danushka, Dananjaya de Silva kept the innings going while the middle order crumbled. Dananjaya fell for 60 runs when the scoreboard read 247/7.
South Africa’s Maharaj, the only spinner in the side seemed to be the only successful bowler for the visitors other than Rabada. He managed to send back 9 of the Sri Lankan batsmen back to the pavilion. Even when Rangana Herath and Akila Dananjaya showed resistance for the last wicket, where the duo put up 74 runs together. It was Maharaj who brought an end to Sri Lanka’s first innings, grabbing Herath’s wicket for a caught behind.
Being unprepared, both mentally and physically
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about South Africa’s first innings. In 25 overs scoring only 85 runs, half the squad was already back in the pavilion, including the likes of Amla and du Plessis. The rest of the 5 wickets fell for just a measly 39 runs. The only two notable scores were from the captain (48) and de Kock (32).
A near 36 overs and the Lankan spinners took out the entire batting lineup. Akila came out on top grabbing a fifer, while Dilruwan nabbed four. Herath remained relatively quiet but managed to trap Markam for an lbw.
Lankans stretching the lead
It was only day two and the Lankans already took the pitch to bat their second innings. Dimuth led the charge once again as he scored 85 runs, falling victim to
Maharaj Ngidi. This was Dimuth’s fourth consecutive half-century.
The opening pair provided a steady start once again with Danushka scoring a brisk 61 off 68 balls, before perishing to Maharaj for the second time. The South African spinner made a dent once again as he sent back de Silva for a duck, and induced a runout off his bowling to grab the wicket of Kusal Mendis.
Angelo Mathews chipped in with a steady 71. Following Mathews’ dismissal, Sri Lanka didn’t stick for long on the pitch. Lakmal and co. decided to declare posting a mammoth 489 for the South Africans.
Pushing for a fourth day
South African batsmen finally managed to offer a bit of resistance as they faced off Akila, Herath, and Dilruwan. Theunis de Bruyn top-scored for the team with a 101 while Elgar contributed with a 37, one filled with quite a bit of drama.
For a moment, it seemed like Elgar had all the luck in the world. His innings were given a lifeline, three times in fact and all of them from Dilruwan. The first incident is where Dilruwan dropped a catch off a top-edged sweep. The second time, Elgar was bowled by Dilruwan. Unfortunately, it was a no-ball. The third time is when he got him for 23. Elgar was halfway walking to the pavilion until he was called back on. It was another no-ball.
Of course, Dilruwan finally had his man. This time, for an lbw. Sri Lanka went on to bag 3 more wickets. Akila managed to claim the wickets of both du Plessis and Maharaj in consecutive deliveries. Amla’s poor run form continued as he was dismissed for 6 runs off a Herath delivery, knocking out Amla’s off stump.
The de Bruyn resistance
At 139/5 at stumps on day 3, it didn’t look anything other than a win for the hosts. Although, the fielding could have been a tad bit better. Had it been so, maybe this could have seen another 3-day finish. But thanks to the efforts of de Bruyn and Bavuma, South Africa had a bit more flesh in their second innings score. The duo put on 123 runs together, their highest partnership in the series. But that was only until the golden arm of Herath came into play. Herath, who was relatively quiet in the first innings struck in quick session on day 4, nabbing 6 wickets.
Steyn was the last man to go as South Africa were forced to wrap up their innings for 290. It might have taken them a bit longer than expected, but Sri Lanka eventually won by 199. This is evidently the first time Proteas faced a whitewash in 12 years in Sri Lanka. A thoroughly dominant performance from the Lankans. Now, on to the ODIs!
For those of you curious, Dimuth Karunaratne was awarded both Man of the Match and Man of the Series.
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