New Delhi :
A stupendous all-round effort by the Dimuth Karunaratne saw the host get hammered in the most obnoxious manner possible at the iconic St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth. On day 2, as many as 18 wickets tumbled, leaving the second Test dangling on a razor's edge. After three innings unfolded on a manic day, Sri Lanka was 137 runs away from becoming only the third side - after England and Australia - to secure a Test series win in South Africa.
Coming into the third day, it was important for the Sri Lankan to hold their nerves and gulp the first-hour pressure and one will have to say, Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis played as per the situation to help their side register a historic eight-wicket win.
In the second Test, the toss fell in favour of Faf du Plessis who asked the opposition to have a bowl first. With this, Karunaratne went to his favourite aides Lakmal and Vishwa Fernando, who stamped their authority on the opposition by bowling in the right lines which eventually made South African batting card look 15 for 3.
Later Markram and skipper du Plessis tried to settle things for South Africa as they helped the side to take the total in three digits. On the other hand, the Sri Lankan bowlers continued to daunt the opposition as they wrapped their first innings for a mere total of 222.
In reply, South African bowlers emulated Sri Lanka’s strategy and didn’t let the Lankan batsman settle and score big. Rabada and Olivier were the picks of the bowlers as they managed to pick seven wickets between them.
In South Africa’s second innings, Lankan spearhead who went wicketless in the first innings picked four crucial wickets to dent the opposition to a mere total of 128 runs.
Having the first innings lead, Sri Lanka was asked to chase 196 runs. For Sri Lanka, Karunaratne and Thrimanne started off the innings. The duo played all around the ground to put 30 odd runs together. However, Olivier and Rabada removed both openers between five balls.
Losing two openers at the start, 197 targets was looking out of reach for them. However, as they say, ‘cricket is a funny game’- and it proved yet again. Two middle batsmen showed what they are capable of to turn the lost fortunes in their favour.
With less than 4 months for the World cup, the victory has probably come at the right time for them. This remains to be seen how the Sri Lanka team can take this victory forward.
For a cricket fan, the sight is a pure delight to watch, after watching Australia and Windies winning after ages, Sri Lanka’s victory over South Africa will help everyone to eagerly wait for the forthcoming World Cup – which shouldn’t be inclined in two-three teams favour now.
South Africa: 222/10 in 61.2 overs (de Kock 86; Fernando 3/62)
Sri Lanka: 154/10 in 37.4 overs (Dicwella 42; Rabada 4/38)
South Africa: 128/10 in 44.3 overs (du Plessis 50; Lakmal 4/39)
Sri Lanka: 197/2 in 45.4 overs (Kusal Mendis 84; Olivier 1/46)