The South Africans fell prey to a dominant display of spin bowling from Dilruwan Perera and veteran spinner Rangana Herath on Day 3 of the 1st Test at the Galle International Stadium.
The visitors, ranked number 2 in Test Cricket crashed out for just 73 runs, their lowest total since readmission and lowest in Sri Lanka. Dilruwan’s 10 wicket haul fetched the home team a mammoth 278 run win in the end.
Sri Lanka, after winning the toss, made 287 and more than half the runs were scored by Dimuth Karunaratne. The 30-year-old made 158 not out in just 222. Kagiso Rabada picked 4 for 50 for South Africa and they made only 126 in the 1st innings. Dilruwan Perera picked 4 for 46.
In the second innings, a couple of 30s and a useful 60 from Karunaratne took Sri Lanka to 190, leaving South Africa with 352 to chase and they had ample tie to do it. However, another brilliant spell of bowling from Dilruwan Perera restricted them to just 73 in 28 overs.
Let us take a look at some of the major talking points from the 1st Test between Sri Lanka and South Africa.
What the wicket did was the least of his concerns. He kept batting and batting until he ran out of partners in the 1st innings and came back with the same temperament in the second. Karunaratne on his own scored more runs – 218 – than South Africa over both innings – 199.
The Sri Lankan batting line-up appeared rather soft when they took on the West Indies and Dimuth Karunaratne’s absence due to injury was part of the reason. His return has made a big difference and unless South Africa find a way to stop him, he will continue batting on his own terms.
“If you keep losing wickets, it is tough coming in – I think that’s the biggest difference when you play in the subcontinent. When you do lose a wicket, that next five overs become tricky – you need to make sure you get through that. Karunaratne was there the whole time for them in the first innings. He scored more than half the runs of their total. So he was fantastic in this game. As bad as we were in our batting, he was very, very good,” said Proteas skipper Faf Du Plessis.
Total Spin Domination
More often we see Rangana Herath shake the opposition but this time it was his spin partner Dilruwan Perera, who finished with a 10-wicket haul, giving South Africa no chance whatsoever.
Most often, the Galle wicket generates unplayable turn on the 5th Day of a Test. Accordingly, the turn was not unplayable but just enough to trouble the Proteas batsman. Even the great Hashim Amla found it difficult and was cheaply dismissed twice by Dilruwan Perera.
Proteas too cautious
South Africa lacked confidence and as a result, played a few lose shots against spin in particular. They were surprisingly too cautious and the lack of reverse swing also had an effect on their quickies.
“Our fast bowling wasn’t as effective because the ball wasn’t reversing. Our deadly instinct when they had the tail in there wasn’t there, and those extra 100-run partnerships towards the end happened. When it’s spinning in conditions like these, we rely on reverse swing to be just as effective a weapon, because we have the pace,” added the Proteas skipper.
Dimuth Karunaratne was adjudged player of the match. The 2nd Test will be played at Colombo from July 20 to 24.
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