Phew. Plenty written. Plenty said. Let us take a breather. Sri Lanka have won. Period. Sri Lanka have defeated South Africa. Double period. The Islanders have beaten the Proteas in the latter's backyard. Wow. Don't feel like putting a period here, do you? But we have to. A fantastic Test match has ended and it is great to be in the Lankan camp right now, while we offer our commiserations to the Proteas. But life moves on. So does the series. Can Sri Lanka achieve what no Asian team has done? Win a Test series in South Africa? A draw in the second Test would suffice. But expect the Proteas to come back hard. Their first loss at home since March 2018, recording 6 straight wins. Join us on Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 10 am local (0800 GMT) to see whether they avoid a series defeat. ADIOS! TAKE CARE!
KUSAL PERERA HAS BEEN NAMED THE MAN OF THE MATCH FOR HIS 51 AND 153 NOT OUT. On his feelings currently, he honestly says that he is tired and does not know what to say! Praises Vishwa Fernando for hanging around with him and helping the team across the line. On his own contribution, Perera says that he just did his bit with everyone else contributing their stuff.
Victorious Sri Lankan skipper, Dimuth Karunaratne, says that it was a great game. Adds that before this match, the Lankans knew that they had a great chance as their only win in South Africa before in a Test had also come at this venue, in 2011. Says that this will be a big boost to not only the players but also the fans back home. On the feelings in the dressing room during the last-wicket stand, Karunaratne smiles and says that no one was moving and everyone was praying. Adds that the feeling in the dressing room is generally very happy and that is what he wants as a captain. Has full of praises for his young side, facing a pacy attack from South Africa and also Embuldeniya, for taking his 5-fer. On Vishwa Fernando, he says that he supported Lakmal when he did not get a wicket and then with the bat, supported Kusal Perera really well. Expects his side to fight hard again in the second Test.
South African skipper, Faf du Plessis, says that it was an incredible game of cricket. Adds that he is disappointed to finish on the losing side but says that if a fan watches 60-70 runs for the last wicket and sees the team win, there is nothing better. Praises Kusal Perera for single-handedly taking the Lankans home. Admits that the Proteas were average with the bat, making 50 below par in
the first innings and then losing their way in the second. Is still struggling to answer as to how the Saffas lost 5/8 in the second innings with the ball not doing anything till that stage but then, suddenly swinging. Stresses that it was the swing which did the batsmen in, even though the spinner (Embuldeniya) took a fifer. Wants his own team to take a leaf out of how the Lankan tail wagged. On his thought process when the last-wicket stand was going on, Faf says that there were plenty of thoughts and they tried everything, protecting the target, keeping the main batsman off strike, bowling as many balls as possible to the tailender but nothing worked today. Praises Dale Steyn and laments the loss of Vernon Philander this morning, as this pitch and the conditions suited him to perfection. But is quick to add that he does not want to give any excuses, as with 220 runs to defend and 7 wickets required, he backed his bowlers to pick those on any day. Stresses that without a doubt, the unit will come back firing for the second Test but is disappointed that this is just a 2-match series.
And now. Sri Lanka. The first line of their national anthem means thus - 'Thou Mother Lanka,
Oh Mother Lanka we salute, salute, salute, salute Thee!' Today, that salute goes to Kusal Perera and the entire Lankan team. Not many visiting teams have the courage to bowl first in South Africa. But they did. Restricted the Saffas to 235, probably lost it with the bat in the first innings but then, to believe that they can win with South Africa racing ahead at 251/5 in the second innings and leading by 295 deserves respect. Lasith Embuldeniya. Does he have any relation with Lasith Malinga? Nope. Probably that word Lasith itself means magic. From nowhere, the 22-year old debutant took a 5-fer, which meant that the Lankans needed 304 to win - still a daunting task but achievable. And they achieved it. Please stay tuned for the post-match presentation...
Talking about the Saffa bowlers, they strut their stuff. Bundled out the Lankans to get a 44-run lead after a modest 235 and then, in the second innings, should have taken that 10th wicket but luck eluded them. Plenty of edges went past the fielders, landing in no man's land. Steyn took a 4-fer in the first innings while Keshav Maharaj took 3 in the second. Crucially, Vernon Philander was not feeling too well with his hamstring and did not take the field at all on Saturday, which proved to be a massive blow.
About the match in total, where did South Africa lose the game? Making just 235 in the first innings with just one half centurion in Quinton de Kock? Or losing their way from 251/5 to 259 all out in the second innings? Had they made 300 in either of the innings, it could have been a different story. The second innings saw two half centurions but overall, it was an average batting display.
Okay. Now for the game summary. Let us begin in reverse order. With Embuldeniya's 5-for setting up a target of 304, Sri Lanka began well, reaching 42/0 but then slipped to 52/3 in no time. This morning, they resumed at 83/3, lost 2 wickets quickly, but the Kusal-Dhananjaya stand kept the Lankan hopes alive. However, Maharaj's late burst almost sealed the deal till the unbeaten last-wicket stand came along.
Do not forget the contribution of Vishwa Fernando. His 6 not out from 27 balls played a huge role in assisting Kusal Perera and Sri Lanka. Wow. Don't they always say, cricket is a team game?
Nothing is impossible, goes the cliche. But here, we have witnessed that nothing is indeed impossible. 206/6 - Dhananjaya de Silva falls. 98 needed with 4 wickets in hand. Match getting out of bounds for Sri Lanka. Then 206/7, 215/8 and 226/9 - 78 needed with 1 wicket in hand. Everyone dreams of a quick finish. But from there, Kusal Janith Perera has just stung the South Africans like a bee, staging an unbeaten 78-run stand with last man Vishwa Fernando and himself scoring 67 out of those!
Sri Lanka touring South Africa? Yes. Match over in 4 days. Yes. South Africa go 1-0 up. A big NO. Oh the world, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, please spare some time and visit this match centre. Kusal Perera has done a Michael Hussey. A VVS Laxman. A Paul Collingwood. A Monty Panesar. A Jimmy Anderson. Take any name you wish. In short, Kusal Perera has done nothing short of a miracle.
K Rabada to Perera, FOUR! SRI LANKA WIN! Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. A length ball, outside off, Perera just angles this towards third man but it is more of an outside edge. Luckily for him, the ball flies wide of the slip fielder and races to the third man fence! Just the second 1-wicket win for the Lankans in Tests, both against South Africa!
K Rabada to Perera, Down the leg side, Kusal misses his tuck but the ball goes off his pads past the keeper towards fine leg. It seems like the ball is running away to the fence but fine leg gets across in time. Two runs taken, leg byes signalled and the Lankans are a boundary away from a win!
K Rabada to Perera, On a good length around middle and leg, Perera dabs it towards gully.
END OF OVER: 85 | 8 Runs 0 Wkt | SL: 298/9
D Steyn to Perera, Outside off, very full, KP digs it out towards point and takes the single to retain the strike! 6 more needed to win now...
D Steyn to Perera, Outside off, Kusal punches this through the covers but does not run.
D Steyn to Perera, SIX! SLAP! That is gutsy shot and the runs required come into single digits! A length ball, around off, Kusal swings with all his might and clears mid-wicket with ease! Two men are waiting in the deep for this stroke, awaiting the top edge but it does not come. 7 more needed to win...
D Steyn to Fernando, JUST WIDE! Around middle, Vishwa plays this uppishly, just wide of short leg and gets a single.
D Steyn to Fernando, Short and outside off again, Fernando gets away from it.
D Steyn to Fernando, Short ball outside off, Fernando sways away from it.
END OF OVER: 84 | 8 Runs 0 Wkt | SL: 290/9
K Rabada to Perera, Another bouncer, around leg, Perera ducks again.
Last ball of the over. Faf du Plessis is frenetically making the field changes. Guess this is just a wastage of time, making Kusal wait...
K Rabada to Perera, A bouncer but way down the leg side, left alone.