|The Sleeping Giant Awakes!|
The eventual South African win with a leg in the air by 10 wickets made you feel that the answer to that previous question was that they failed miserable. Though it was more a failure by the Sri Lankan Captain Tillakaratne Dilshan in his safety first approach by sending South Africa in to bat after winning the toss. Rather than trying to be positive by batting first and trying to keep the pressure on the hosts.
This defensive mindset meant all the ascendency in the game was gifted to South Africa, and they duly grabbed it with both hands by running up 580/4 in their 1st innings.
Let us look at the game in greater depth
The relative success and failure in both of South Africa's series of late has been dependant on their batting performing. In the previous loss to Sri Lanka in Durban it was facilitated by an insipid batting display highlighted by a pair to the immortal Jacques Kallis.
You knew that all the Coaches and the big wigs sat the Team down after the inexplicable loss in Durban and read the batting line up the riot act.
The Selectors jumped on board too by axing Ashwell Prince moving Jacques Rudolph down the order, and reinstating Alviro Petersen in the opening role. Also the only reason that Mark Boucher survived the boot was the absence of ready made replacements behind the stumps with the Team being adverse to giving A.B.DeVilliers this immense responsibility in Tests.
Standing applause for the much need kick up the pants that forced the batsmen to lift!
Lead by the sleeping giant in Jacques Kallis waking with a brilliant 224 as well as Alviro Petersen giving a much needed boost to the top of the order with 109. Then A. B. DeVilliers represented the icing on the cake with a stroke filled flawless 160 that had the Capetown faithful hanging off his every move.
Once the batting contributed to the effort the excellent bowling unit lead by the returning Vernon Philander overwhelmed Sri Lanka with them batting with the added pressure of runs on the board.
The Team has had a long standing issue at the top of the order in finding a long term partner for Graeme Smith. There have been many that have wanted a logical choice in Hashim Amla to be moved up a slot to rectify the issue, but then that would rob the Team of an excellent number 3 batsman.
Alviro Petersen has been tried and failed to a large extent in the role, but after going back to First Class Cricket and dominating it was hard to ignore him.
In his return to the Test team his great hundred was a huge factor behind the win
The sleeping Giant awoke, and my word were Sri Lanka made to pay with his gluttonous appetite for runs!
The Future of Imran Tahir
The journeyman leg spinner adds a lovely bit of variety that South Africa has been yelling out for for years, but in this series he has shown glimpses of Test calibre but not enough to be sold on his long term place in the Team.
Plus the return of Philander and the retention of Tahir meant the excellent Marchant de Lange was sacrificed for this game.
Duly with Tahir being average for the most part, it made you question whether South Africa was better served with his variety in the attack or De Lange's precocious threat?
In truth the Team was knee buckled with the decision to send South Africa in on what was a batting paradise. Obviously with the memory of them being destroyed for under 100 while batting first on a previous tour on this pitch.
It just was overly defensive especially after the team had all the ascendency after their inspirational Durban win in respect to why not try to carry on with that advantage by being proactive by choosing to bat. If they had batted well, the acid that would have come on South Africa with the prospect of not winning what was deemed as an unloseable series. That would have been palpable to the point that it might have lead to a shock Sri Lankan series win.
For South Africa has a history of not dealing well with pressure as I am sure most will know....
After the South Africans had run up 580 on the road, the game was over, and Sri Lanka's only thought was survival. Which they struggled mightily with and only a lusty 6 from Chanaka Welegedara after the Team was made to follow on saved them from an innings defeat.
Despite the resut the Team showed a real amount of heart in this game. Notably on the 4th morning when all in sundry expected them to be blown away before Lunch the fight shown by Angelo Mathews and Thilan Samaraweera showed real Lions roar.
Samaraweera's unbeaten innings of 115 was of the highest calibre scored against a high class attack and with real odds against him. Which well and truly shoved it up the Selectors for the craven disrespect they have shown to him of late.
Ultimately the team lost the match and with it the series 2/1, but with how they fought back to win the 2nd Test, and the resilience they showed at times in this match they gained a good slice of respect.
That I am sure will fuel better performances by Sri Lanka in the near future
Back to back centuries against a great attack and against the odds compels us to bow in honour of your immense skill and powers of determination!
11/10- we grade you Thilan!
We have already covered his inexplicable gaff in sending South Africa in after winning the toss, but his soft as butter dismissal in the first innings made you seethe.
He was set and sharing in a partnership with Kumar Sangakkara that had lead the Team to 128/1 with a chance to set up a huge total. Brainlessly, he then tries to hit Imran Tahir for 6 and inexplicably gets caught at long on.
After witnessing this and his other irresponsible acts throughout the series. He should be sacked as Captain, and replaced in the Team by a youngster like Bhanuka Rajapaksa
Chanaka Welegedara's Fielding Howler
In the South African first innings in the initial stages a duel break through by Dhamika Prasad that accounted for Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla left the hosts at 56/2.
Enter Jacques Kallis after a pair in his last Test and he was greeted by a flurry of excellent short stuff by Prasad. On reaching 30 odd he skied one to deep fine leg where all Chanaka Welegedara had to do was take a step in and accept the easy catch. Sadly for Sri Lanka's prospects, it was apparent that the big quick was off in dreamland with the ball lobbing in front of him, and a huge opportunity to put pressure on the under fire South African batting line up was lost.
Kallis could not believe his luck and duly made Sri Lanka pay in kind with a match defining double century