Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa’s pace duo of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel both took four wickets to hand the Proteas a 153-run win over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle and a 1-0 lead in the series.
However, Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara did an excellent job of keeping South Africa at bay for a while with his valiant knock of 76.
Starting out the day on 110/1, Sangakkara and Kaushal Silva converted their 96-run partnership into a 104-run partnership before Silva was caught behind off the bowling of Steyn for 38.
Mahela Jayawardene only made 10 runs before he was also caught behind, but only off the bowling of Morkel.
Sangakkara went on to score 76 off 145 balls, which included nine boundaries and a six, before he was caught by South Africa skipper Hashim Amla at short midwicket off the bowling of Jean Paul (JP) Duminy.
Lahiru Thirimanne failed to have an impact with the bat as he was caught by AB de Villiers in the slip cordon off the bowling of Steyn for 12 runs.
Dinesh Chandimal fared no better as he was caught behind off the bowling of Morkel for just one run.
Chandimal reviewed the decision immediately, but replays showed that the ball had flicked his glove, which led to the third umpire upholding the original decision.
Dilruwan Perera failed to trouble the scorers as he was caught behind off the bowling of Steyn.
Rangana Herath made a quickfire 20 before he was caught by de Villiers at square leg off the bowling of Duminy.
Suranga Lakmal mustered 12 runs before he was caught by Imran Tahir at long leg off the bowling of Morkel.
Morkel delivered the knockout blow to Sri Lanka the very next ball when Shaminda Eranga was caught by Dean Elgar at short leg for a golden duck.
Steyn and Morkel picked up four wickets apiece, while Duminy chipped in with two.
Mathews was disappointed with his team’s performance, and said: “South Africa outplayed us on all five days and that’s why they are the No.2 team. It was a disappointing performance, [I] don’t mind losing games after good cricket but this game we were disappointing. We were pretty flat, the heat gets to us too. It’s going to be hard work winning a Test and we all know that but South Africa got the better of us. The first innings total cost us the game, if we had added a [few] more runs we could have been in with a chance. The [batsmen] need to improve when we go to SSC.”
Amla was pleased to have won his first game as captain, and said: “It’s not easy, credit to the boys, they put the hands up today. We had a challenging [few] overs last night but they came back and did really well. I didn’t doubt the declaration, we needed a lot of overs and 370 was good enough I thought. The toss was pretty crucial. It was pretty difficult in the third and fourth innings. Dean got a hundred, JP got one as well and they set it up. Steyn, Morkel, Philander, I can call them at any time and they would give 100%. They’re the best. On surfaces like this you can’t rely on one bowler. The others did well too. It was a group effort. On a different day, a glove, a top edge could have gone. The spinners did well.”
Steyn was named Man of the Match, and said: “It’s never easy, but someones got to do it. I look at myself as someone who tries to build the character of the side and the captain turns to me. Short spells, two three overs. Have to conserve the energy. Hashim rotated us well and the spinners did well as well. Our side’s pretty good, great team with great cricketers and when you play with guys like AB, Faf, Amla, Philander, JP, it brings the best out of you.”