Sri Lanka have rewritten the history books after a comfortable win at Port Elizabeth, beating hosts South Africa by 8 wickets to become the third country ever to hand South Africa a series win in their own backyard after Australia and England. The final touches of the 2-0 whitewash were applied by Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando with stylish knocks of 84 and 75 respectively.
To start today’s play, the overnight pair, Mendis and Fernando walked into the middle to chase down the target of 197 runs, with Sri Lanka on 60/2 and another 137 runs needed to record a special win.
Both batsmen looked positive and confident as they never shied away from the pace of Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Duanne Olivier, who regularly touched 145kph with a mix of good length and short pitched bowling. They chose correct lines to leave, defend and attack as the scorers were kept busy.
When the seamers were made to look ineffective by the Fernando-Mendis duo’s exceptional approach, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis had to throw the ball to spinner Keshav Maharaj to slow things down. But the Sri Lankan pair used their crease to negate the spin with fine footwork.
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Mendis announced himself back into form after a rough patch of scores, with a counter-attacking fifty, filled with glorious drives on either side of the wicket. Fernando, playing just his second Test match, showed a great amount of grace and elegance with his eye-catching strokeplay, taking on the Protea bowlers courageously. Fernando reached his maiden fifty in just 69 balls with a wristy whip to the mid-wicket boundary off Maharaj’s bowling.
Sri Lanka’s premium spinner for the Test match, Lasith Embuldeniya was injured when he tried to hold on to a catch off his own bowling and will be out of action for six weeks as he dislocated his thumb. But he was seen in the dressing room, practicing his shots, a sign that he was available for batting if needed.
After the 100-run partnership between Mendis and Fernando, they never looked like getting out and the opposition looked out of the game with negative body language.
The required 137 runs were chased down in the morning session with ease as Mendis & Fernando compiled an unbeaten 163 run partnership to guide Sri Lanka to a famous and unexpected win.
Dimuth Karunaratne, the stand-in captain of Sri Lanka will go down in the history books as the 4th captain to lead a side to back to back Test wins in South Africa and the first Sri Lankan captain to lead a team to a Test series in South Africa.
222/10 & 128/10
154/10 & 197/2
SL won by 8 wickets
South Africa’s 1st Innings
|Dean Elgar||b V Fernando||6||13|
|Aiden Markram||lbw by K Rajitha||60||116|
|Hashim Amla||b V Fernando||0||1|
|Temba Bavuma||(runout) K Rajitha||0||2|
|Faf du Plessis||b D Karunarathne||25||60|
|Quinton de Kock||b D De Silva||86||87|
|Wiaan Mulder||lbw by K Rajitha||9||9|
|Keshav Maharaj||c N Dickwella b K Rajitha||0||5|
|Kagiso Rabada||c N Dickwella b D De Silva||22||65|
|Dale Steyn||not out||3||11|
|Dane Olivier||c N Dickwella b V Fernando||0||3|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||5||0||15||2||3.00|
Sri Lanka’s 1st Innings
|Dimuth Karunarathne||c de Kock b K Rabada||17||42|
|Lahiru Thirimanne||c & b D Olivier||29||63|
|Oshada Fernando||b D Olivier||0||9|
|Kusal Mendis||c de Kock b D Olivier||16||15|
|Kasun Rajitha||b K Rabada||1||10|
|Kusal Janith||c de Kock b K Rabada||20||15|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||c de Kock b W Mulder||19||24|
|Niroshan Dickwella||c D Elgar b K Rabada||42||36|
|Suranga Lakmal||lbw by K Maharaj||7||14|
|Vishwa Fernando||not out||0||0|
|Lasith Embuldeniya||not out||0||0|
South Africa’s 2nd Innings
|Aiden Markram||c O Fernando b K Rajitha||18||27|
|Dean Elgar||c N Dickwella b V Fernando||2||17|
|Hashim Amla||c K Mendis b D De Silva||32||72|
|Temba Bavuma||c N Dickwella b K Rajitha||6||25|
|Faf du Plessis||not out||50||70|
|Quinton de Kock||c & b S Lakmal||1||7|
|Wiaan Mulder||c K Mendis b D De Silva||5||8|
|Keshav Maharaj||lbw by S Lakmal||6||17|
|Kagiso Rabada||c K Mendis b S Lakmal||0||8|
|Dale Steyn||c L Thirimanne b D De Silva||0||4|
|Dane Olivier||lbw by S Lakmal||6||13|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||11||1||36||3||3.27|
Sri Lanka’s 2nd Innings
|Dimuth Karunarathne||c de Kock b D Olivier||19||31|
|Lahiru Thirimanne||c de Kock b K Rabada||10||27|
|Oshada Fernando||not out||75||106|
|Kusal Mendis||not out||84||110|