DURBAN, South Africa, December 30 – Sri Lanka captain Tillekeratne Dilshan acclaimed “one of the great wins” after his side completed an historic 208-run victory over South Africa on the fourth day of the second Test at Kingsmead on Thursday.
There were wild scenes of celebration on the pitch when Rangana Herath bowled Marchant de Lange in fading light with only nine balls remaining in the day. The team reserves and management ran on to the field to join their triumphant teammates.
Dilshan promised the celebrations would continue when the team got back to their hotel. “I said before the game that if we can play our brand of cricket we can beat any team. We beat one of the best teams in the world. It’s a fantastic feeling and great for the Sri Lankan fans. I’m really proud of my team.”
It was Sri Lanka’s first win in South Africa on four Test tours and their first win of a previously bleak 2011. It was also the team’s first win under Dilshan’s captaincy and levelled the three-match series.
Dilshan said the win was one of Sri Lanka’s best wins outside of their own country.
Asked whether it compared with a famous win over England at the Oval in 1998, he said: “Definitely. It is one of the great wins of Sri Lankan cricket.”
The captain said the players would celebrate on Thursday night – “maybe all night” – before heading to Cape Town for the decisive third Test starting on Tuesday.
Set to make 450 to win, South Africa were bowled out for 241. Left-arm spinner Herath took five for 79 and had match figures of nine for 128.
He was named man of the match.
South African captain Graeme Smith admitted: “We were outplayed from the start.” He said the team’s poor batting in the first innings, which was followed by another top order failure in the second innings, was the biggest reason for their defeat.
Smith said the Sri Lankans had adapted better to the Kingsmead pitch.
“It was a little bit slower. Reverse swing and spin played a role and they handled the surface better than us throughout the game.”
Sri Lanka seemed set for an early victory when South Africa lost five wickets between lunch and tea to be reeling at 133 for six shortly before the interval. The collapse included a second duck in the match for Jacques Kallis – his first ‘pair’ in 149 Tests.
But AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn denied the tourists for more than two hours as they put together a seventh wicket partnership of 99 which threatened to take the match into a fifth day.
De Villiers atoned for a reckless shot which cost him his wicket in the first innings with a solid 69, while Steyn again showed up some of his top order teammates, following up his first innings 29 not out with a fighting 43.
Sri Lanka were forced to take the second new ball but with the light fading rapidly the fast bowlers sent down only three overs before Dilshan returned to spin.
Herath trapped De Villiers leg before wicket and the last three wickets fell rapidly.
Morne Morkel hit five runs before he was also lbw after missing a wild slog against Dilshan off the last ball of an over and Steyn fell to Herath off the next delivery, to be followed two balls later by De Lange.
Smith said his team had not been over-confident after winning the first Test in Centurion by an innings and 81 runs. “The way we prepared was excellent. Our training sessions were competitive and the guys really prepared well. We just didn’t get it together at all during the game.”
The South African captain said he was confident that his team could bounce back to clinch the series at Newlands, a ground where they had a good record.
“We’ve been here before. Cape Town is a ground that we’ve played well at. All of us are hurting and we’ve got to bounce back. The only way to do that is by playing better cricket and winning.”