Faf du Plessis was a disappointed captain as South Africa suffered a humiliating 278-run defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the first Test at Galle International Stadium, Galle on Saturday (July 14).
South Africa were all out for 73 in their second innings, their lowest total in the island nation. They were bundled out for 126 in the first innings on Friday, their second lowest total in Sri Lanka.
First innings centurion Dimuth Karunaratne made a fluent 60 in the second innings to help Sri Lanka post 190 and thus securing an overall lead of 351.
Spinners led by Dilruwan Perera led Sri Lanka to the win as only three South African batsmen reached double figures in the second dig. While Perera added six wickets to his four in the first innings, veteran Rangana Herath picked up three scalps after taking two in the first outing.
Reflecting on his team’s sub-standard performance, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis rued not dismissing the hosts around 220 after reducing them to 170/7.
“We have only got ourselves to blame. After getting a team down to 170/7, you need to get them all-out for 220, and 280 was a let off. But it was a great innings from Karunaratne, he showed our batters how you need to go about in putting big scores on the board. It was as if he batted on a different surface, given that nobody else went past 50,” Du Plessis quoted at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“As much as you practice, you don't get quality spinners in the nets. It is obviously tough in these conditions and it is something we need to work with. We were surprised by the wetness of the outfield with the rain, and because of that reverse swing wasn't much of a factor in this Test and that took a lot out of our fast bowling attack,” he added.
Karunaratne was adjudged Man of the Match for playing two outstanding innings in the Test match. The southpaw has carried his bat in the first innings, scoring a gritty 158 off 222 balls.
Speaking at the presentation, Karunaratne said: “I got injured, worked really hard with the 'A' team and got my form back. When I was left out of the national side I had to work hard, went to Bangladesh and got my place back. I always wanted to play positive and backed my strengths - which is what I do on turning tracks. After the knock I got to know of my record through social media of becoming only the second Sri Lankan to get a century in my 50th Test.”
Ecstatic with his career best bowling figures (78/10) in the match, off-spinner Dilruwan Perera said: “Every spinner likes to bowl in Galle. I can get a lot of drift and turn here. Everytime I bowl with Rangana it helps me and it is very easy. South Africa have struggled in the past to spin and Rangana held up one end and I got wickets from the other. We have a lot of young spinners and they will step up (once Rangana retires).”
Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo will host the second Test between Sri Lanka and South Africa from July 20.