Patrick Compton

A SOUTH AFRICAN national cricket team finally got a win under their belts at Kingsmead when South Africa “A” beat their Sri Lankan counterparts by an innings and eight runs yesterday.

“At last, we’ve got a win here,” smiled victorious captain Faf du Plessis after the first unofficial Test match finished more than a day early after the hosts dismissed Sri Lanka for 247 in their second innings. He was referring to the fact that the Proteas have lost their last four Tests at the Durban ground, a record that has become something of a hoodoo.

The former Affies schoolboy, who turns 28 this month, enjoyed a fine match, striking a big hundred as well as showing that he is a natural leader.

“I thought we were excellent in all phases of the game, and every guy contributed. We haven’t played four-day cricket for a long time and to get all our disciplines nailed down like we did is a good sign for the team,” Du Plessis said.

All-rounder Ryan McLaren was the star performer yesterday, capturing 5/60 in 17 overs with his accurate fast-medium bowling.

South Africa had declared on their overnight total of 425/6, hoping to get among the vulnerable Sri Lankan batsmen during the morning session when the pitch has been consistently lively. Sure enough, it was the pace bowlers who again made the early breakthrough with McLaren taking the first three wickets as the visitors stumbled to 33/3.

They were then held up by a fourth wicket partnership of 82 between opener Dilruwan Perera (48) and Roshane Silva (50) who both batted sensibly. But when Perera fell to Rory Kleinveldt shortly after lunch, and then Silva was needlessly run out shortly afterwards, the end was near. The tail wagged entertainingly without threatening to take it into the fourth day as SA clinched the match shortly after tea.

Proteas’ leg-spinner Imran Tahir, looking for match practice ahead of the Proteas’ tour of England, got a decent bowl, capturing 3/82 in 22.4 overs as he wheeled away unchanged from the Umgeni End from shortly before lunch.

Tahir has recently returned from Pakistan where he worked with former Pakistani leg-spinner Abdul Qadir at his Lahore academy. “Abdul was really helpful,” he said. “It wasn’t about technique so much as how I use what I’ve got. It was all about how I apply my spin and pace variations.”

The second match starts at Kingsmead on Friday.