Proteas simply cannot play spin | Sunday Observer

Proteas simply cannot play spin

Shot out for lowest ever Test score - lose inside three days :
Dilruwan Perera(left) shows the ball and at right Man of the Match Dimuth Karunaratne with his trophy Pix: Saman Mendis
Dilruwan Perera(left) shows the ball and at right Man of the Match Dimuth Karunaratne with his trophy Pix: Saman Mendis

South Africa gave one of their worst batting displays against spin when they were routed for their lowest ever Test score since re-admission to the Test fold in 1991 – being shot out for a paltry 73 in their second innings to lose the first Test of a two-Test series to Sri Lanka by 278 runs, 13 minutes before tea on the third day at the Galle International Stadium yesterday.

Chasing a target of 352 after bowling Sri Lanka out for 190 in their second innings, the South African batsmen simply showed their deficiencies against spin on a pitch that did not afford the kind of turn that is usually associated with the venue.

South Africa gave a ghastly display of batting against spin and the way they tried to tackle the off-spin of Dilruwan Perera and the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath was a poor reflection of a team that is ranked no. 2 in the world.

Following their first innings debacle when they were dismissed for 126, one expected the Proteas to put up a better fight in the second innings but they simply buckled under pressure as Perera and Herath bowling in tandem simply swept them off their feet leaving them with nothing to chance.

The duo took the first nine wickets to fall for 67 runs and after Herath was rested after 14 overs during which period he captured 3 wickets for 38, Lakshan Sandakan put the finishing touches to the South African innings in the only over he bowled by having last man Shamsi lbw for 2 to spark off celebrations within the Lankan camp.

It was Sri Lanka’s second successive win in back to back Tests under the captaincy of stand-in skipper Suranga Lakmal. They had last month beaten West Indies by six wickets in the night Test played at Barbados.

Sri Lanka who began the day at 111-4 could not make much headway when they resumed their innings on the third morning and were dismissed for 190, nine minutes before the lunch break. The rest of the batting fell to the combination pace and spin with Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj capturing seven wickets between them.

Rabada in the process of capturing three wickets for 44 reached the 150-wicket mark in his 31st Test when he dismissed Dilruwan Perera lbw without offering a shot making him joint tenth-quickest bowler to the mark overall, and the third-quickest South African, behind Hugh Tayfield and Dale Steyn.

South Africa commenced their run chase shortly before lunch facing three overs before the break, but were bowled out inside one session in the afternoon with none of their batsmen able to counter the spin variations of Perera and Herath.

Vernon Philander top scored with an unbeaten 22 that comprised two sixes and opener Adrian Markram scored a sedate 19 off 46 balls. Otherwise the rest of the batsmen gave a feeble display against spin to be bowled out for their lowest Test total after readmission.

The previous low was 79 against India at Nagpur in 2015 and South Africa’s all time low is 30 against England twice (at Port Elizabeth in 1896) and (at Birmingham in 1924).

Perera was the pick of the Lankan bowlers finishing with career best innings (6/32) and match figures (10/78) to repeat the success he had against South Africa four years ago when he took 16 wickets in the two-Test series.

Dimuth Karunaratne was deservedly named Man of the Match for his two match defining innings of 158 not out and 60. He was the only batsman to score over fifty in both innings of the Test and his total aggregate for the match – 218 runs was more than what South Africa could garner in their two innings – 199.