Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
South Africa dethroned Australia to reclaim their position atop the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test team rankings after managing to survive on the final day of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Even though the second Test ended as a draw, South Africa won the series 1-0, which was enough to put them one point ahead of Australia.
Starting out the day on 38/1, South Africa opener Dean Elgar and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock only added nine runs to their 34-run partnership before Elgar was clean bowled by Dilruwan Perera for 13.
De Kock went on to score 37 runs before he was caught by Kithuruwan Vithanage at backward short leg off the bowling of Rangana Herath.
AB de Villiers only made 12 runs before he was clean bowled by an absolutely brilliant delivery from Herath.
South Africa captain Hashim Amla managed to keep Sri Lanka at bay for a long time before he was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at slip off the bowling of Perera for 25.
Faf du Plessis mustered 10 runs before Jayawardene took his 200th catch at slip to dismiss him off the bowling of Herath.
Jean Paul (JP) Duminy frustrated Sri Lanka by continuously defending deliveries before Perera finally made the breakthrough by trapping him lbw for three runs, which came off 65 balls.
Duminy reviewed the decision immediately, but replays showed that the ball was going on to hit the top of leg stump.
Dale Steyn scored six runs before he was caught behind to give Herath his 18th five-wicket haul.
Vernon Philander and Imran Tahir amassed an unbeaten 11-run partnership before Sri Lanka bowled out all their overs. This meant that the match ended as a draw and South Africa won the series 1-0.
Herath was the pick of the bowlers with his five-wicket haul, while Perera snapped up three wickets.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was gutted to have lost the Test series, and said: “Disappointing not to end up on the winning side, credit to the team on how they responded after the first Test. One of the best innings I have seen from Mahela. Dickwella was good as well. We did everything right, we lost only about 13 overs. It was a different wicket, not the normal SSC, it was pretty [competitive], the batters had to work hard, not the normal flat wicket where it becomes a batting paradise after the first couple of sessions. They are a very hard team to beat, whether home or away.”
Amla was ecstatic to have gained sweet retribution after South Africa lost when they last toured Sri Lanka in 2006.
“It started raining a bit so took a few overs out, credit to the guys, tough battle, lasting 110 overs on that wicket with quality spinners was credit to the guys,” he said. “When we conceded 400 in the first innings, that was a setback, and then we were 13 for 2. But it set it up nicely for the end. I have enjoyed the two Tests. The players have responded brilliantly. We have done some special things [over the] last two years, and today was another example.”
Jayawardene was named Man of the Match for his superb knock of 165 in the first innings, and said: “Lucky winning the toss because the wicket was decent to bat on. [We] capitalised on that and later on it got tougher. It was a good Test, would have been great had we won the game, but South Africa managed to hold it together. We enjoy playing them, they get the best out of you. I guess the body says the time is right. Enjoyed my career journey, got a few more games to go, I will enjoy with the boys.”
Steyn was named Man of the Series for taking 13 wickets at an astounding average of 17.46, and said: “Very close. This team has done some wonderful things [over the] last couple of years. To pull off a draw in these conditions is amazing with a little help from mother nature. Mahela, Sanga, I look up to them massively, it is a special feeling against a good side. Our batters combated spin, which was their strength, and our fast bowlers did well.”