Strange game indeed as SA clinch series

Times Media


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

NOT often does a bowler who takes no wickets give a press conference and another, who takes 10, does not.

But the second test between South Africa at Newlands, which the home side won by 228 runs 15 minutes before lunch on the fourth day on Thursday to clinch the series 2-0, was no ordinary match.

Instead, it was Kyle Abbott’s last test.

And not because he had reached an advanced age or suffered some awful injury, but because he had signed a Kolpak contract.

So Abbott, who went wicketless in 23 nonetheless fine overs, spoke to the press at length and Kagiso Rabada, who bowled like a runaway train on fire for his match haul of 10/92 – the best figures by a South African in the 24 tests they have played against the Lankans – was nowhere to be seen.

Rabada’s performance, and a century and half-century by Dean Elgar and another ton by Quinton de Kock, earned South Africa victory by 282 runs and with more than five sessions of the second test to spare.

It also meant the home side have won the series ahead of the third test at the Wanderers on Thursday.

And all that on a pitch green and grassy enough to make even its creator, Evan Flint, nervous.

“For an opening batsman to get a hundred on a wicket like that was great batting, and there was great bowling from our bowlers,” Faf du Plessis said. “From then we were in a dominant position.

“It was pretty much a perfect performance. Everything was planned and everything worked out perfectly.

“We felt that we could take it at lunch on day four in a perfect world and it worked out exactly like that.

“We were relentless. We didn’t let Sri Lanka into the game once.”

They didn’t, and the Lankans knew it.

“Dean Elgar batted brilliantly to get a hundred on that particular surface,” their captain, Angelo Mathews, said.

“He left a lot of balls. The way he batted is a lesson to learn for all of us.

“Our batsmen have been pretty disappointing.

“You need long hours of concentration against a quality attack like South Africa’s.

“They rarely give you a loose ball and if you try to score runs off the good balls you end up nicking off to the slips or the ’keeper.”

Sri Lanka, who were set 507 to win, resumed on 130/4 and lost six wickets for 94 runs in the 12 overs bowled on Thursday.

Rabada took four of them, first striking in the sixth over of the day when Dinesh Chandimal’s flick off his pads flew to Stephen Cook at square leg.

In his next over Rabada had a slashing Upul Tharanga caught behind off the bottom edge with his first delivery and Angelo Mathews, who was on the drive, also snaffled by Quinton de Kock with the sixth ball.

Four overs later Suranga Lakmal gloved a Rabada bouncer to De Kock.

Rabada was indeed rested after bowling seven overs, in which he took 4/33.

Keshav Maharaj hammered another nail into the visitors’ coffin when he had Lahiru Kumara smartly stumped by De Kock with a wide delivery.

Vernon Philander ended the match 15 minutes before the scheduled lunch interval when he bowled Nuwan Pradeep to complete the Lankans’ dismissal for 224.

Philander took 3/48.

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