Keshav Maharaj registered his best ever Test figures of 9 for 129 in the ongoing second Test match in Colombo against South Africa. Kagiso Rabada picked the only other wicket in the form of Roshen Silva( 22) as the Protean batsmen fell like nine pins against Maharaj's spell.
Sri Lankan batting coach Thilan Samaraweera was surprised by this magical spell from the Protean left arm spinner.
“I was really surprised. I thought they might go with three pacers and two spinners revealed Samaraweera. But they stuck to their strength which is pace. I guess not having the additional spinner is good for us. When you see the scorecard, one spinner has picked up eight wickets. They are probably short of one spinner."
“You have to give credit to South Africa’s bowlers. The three seamers in this hot and humid conditions did well to send down 45 overs. Maharaj was really superb. He bowled good areas and created pressure and delivered some good balls to dismiss our top order.”
“We knew that with the new ball, it was easy to score runs and that after lunch, we knew it was going to be tough. The one-hour period after lunch where they were looking to reverse-swing the ball and more spin came to play as well. You have to give credit to the opposition. We had maybe two soft dismissals. They were on the money,” offered the stylish batsman who played 81 Tests between 2001 and 2013 and signed off with an average of nearly 50."
Sri Lanka eventually ended the day on 277 for 9, and Samaraweera was content with the tally. “After winning the toss, we were looking at 270 to 300 runs. When the game goes, it will be hard to bat in the third and fourth innings on these kinds of surfaces. I am happy that we are where we are at 277 for 9,” said Samaraweera. “Had we been 275 for 6, we would have been happier".
Sri Lanka included Akila Dananjaya in the XI instead of Lakshan Sandakan to complement Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath, and Samaraweera said the youngster would reap rewards on this pitch.
“If we bowl in the right areas, one will spin and one will go straight. Never underestimate our third spinner, Akila Dananjaya. He is a quality bowler. I am sure all three spinners will come to play tomorrow."
“He is a quality spinner and very confident about what he can do. He is a good Test cricketer with nice loop and a lot of variation. We know that Herath is reaching the end of his career. After a long spell, he needs about a good 40-minute break. That time, we can use Akila.”
(Inputs from Wisden)