COLOMBO – The Proteas have routinely found the venerable SSC to be the graveyard of their ambitions.
Saturday was certainly not the first time down the years that the South Africans have been bewitched, bothered and bewildered by cunning deviations and unexpected drift of the ball on the island’s capital.
But yet the pure repulsiveness of their third consecutive batting collapse of this series must rank among the lowest moments in Proteas’ history.
Where were all the promises in the build-up that they were ready?
The mantra was that they had learned their lessons and that the Galle cobwebs had been shaken off before this all-important series decider.
Talk is cheap, and its currency is even lower on the sub-continent.
With a sequence of ill-advised strokes, in addition to the wizardry of Akila Dananjaya and Dilruwan Perera, South Africa were dismissed for 124 to concede a first-innings lead of 214.
Why Sri Lankan captain Suranga Lakmal did not enforce the follow-on remains a mystery, for the Proteas would in all likelihood have imploded yet again in the final session, such was their feeble body language when the shadows lengthened at 5.30pm.
The only sane motivation may have been that the hosts wanted the satisfaction of grinding the Proteas into the infamous red SSC dust.
And that they duly enjoyed in a bountiful last two hours, bludgeoning a further 151/3 in 34 overs to enlarge their lead to 365 runs.
STUMPS, DAY 2: End of a tough day for South Africa. Sri Lanka lead by 365. Karunaratne 59*, Mathews 12*. Maharaj 2/90.— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) July 21, 2018
This session: 34 overs, 151 runs, 3 wickets, run rate 4.44.
Day summary: 87 overs, 336 runs, 14 wickets. pic.twitter.com/OTPtL64uw9