Opening batsman Dean Elgar has conceded that this South African side under Faf du Plessis has been simply outplayed and outclassed on the shores of Sri Lanka. Across both the Test matches, South African batting line-up has been pulverised and befuddled by the home side's spinners and they now stare down a series whitewash at the hands of what is far from a complete Sri Lankan side.
At the end of the third day's play on July 22, Elgar was quoted saying, "I think you’ve got to give yourself a lot of positive thoughts. You’ve got to tell yourself to just keep batting, and take it a ball at a time, It doesn’t help to look at the end result because the end result is pretty unrealistic as things stand. You can’t look too far ahead. It’s basically we’ve just got a series to lose – if we manage to draw the game, or even get close to that score, that’s really a victory for us in its own respect. Going forward it’s just taking it one ball at a time."
"That’s how we’ve tried to approach this innings(run chase), especially in the beginning. We’ve actually found that with a partnership, and a little bit of panic, the Sri Lankan bowlers do go a little defensive. As batters, we can actually bat out there. But there is the one ball that does have your name on it, and you’ve got to try your best to keep that ball out. Hopefully, you’ll get a lot of luck on your side which you haven’t really had on this series."
Beneath the words, Elgar has complaints about the kind of surfaces that have been offered to his side on the tour, as he said, “I do find, this time round in Sri Lanka the wickets have been a lot more challenging to the batters. I think we’ve had the tougher of the two conditions. That’s not an excuse by any means. We have been outplayed and outclassed in this series, and I’ll be man enough to say that Sri Lanka have been better than us in this particular series. But there are still a lot of positives for us in the series, and we need to take those positives. And work as a unit, because not too long from now we’ve got another Test series coming up."
Earlier, Elgar had said that Sri Lanka gave South Africa practice and warm-up game surfaces different to the ones they've encountered in the Test matches, he said, “The two-day game that we played – all we faced in the top order was just seamers, I didn’t face one ball of seam in the whole Test series. That’s pretty streetsmart, I’d say. They gave us a flat wicket that didn’t turn, and that’s pretty streetsmart. The series starts really before the first ball is bowled. The wickets we had were brilliant – they were almost like a one-day wicket. That gives the batters a lot of confidence because we are smashing everything. In the Tests, all we faced were spinners on pretty dusty wickets.”
Whatever it may be, South Africa's soft underbelly as a side has been brutally exposed on this tour and they would do well to learn as much as possible from this experience.
(Inputs from Wisden India)