SA vs Sri Lanka: Plays of the Game
INNINGS (1) – In the context of the match Elgar’s 127, turned out to be extremely valuable. In this Proteas side his clarity around his own game plan stands out. In this match he batted at a quicker pace than is the norm for him, but that too illustrates how well he’d assessed conditions, and that he knows his own form is good at the moment. Elgar is South Africa’s most important Test batsman.
INNINGS (2) – The second hundred in this Test also came from an opener, Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne went where some stellar names from Sri Lanka’s past didn't, in making a century at the Wanderers. It was a smart and gutsy effort and if he’d received some better support, South Africa could have chased something more tricky in the fourth innings.
SPELL – Nortje finished the match with more wickets, but it was Mulder’s three over burst before lunch on day one that changed the course of Sri Lanka’s first innings, and the match. Kusal Perera had dominated the first hour, putting the Proteas on the back foot, until Mulder intervened, bowling straight lines and nipping the ball around off the seam. His spell at lunch read 3-2-1-3.
CATCHES – Both teams snapped up some good ones; Mendis may not have scored any runs in the match but did some outstanding work at second slip. De Kock’s two full length dives to his left were quite stunning efforts, one to dismiss the left handed Dickwella in the first innings and the other to get rid of the right-handed Mendis in the second. And then there was Maharaj, who winded himself putting in a dive after a sprint, that saw the end of Bhanuka on Monday.
A WIN – Don’t let the ‘it’s only Sri Lanka’ brigade, grab all the attention. This was a significant series win for the Proteas, the team’s first in two years, the first in four series - and remember, ‘it’s only’ Sri Lanka beat South Africa in the previous four Tests between the two countries before this series.