Sri Lanka in South Africa 2011-12 December 30, 2011

Sri Lanka kick about after first win

Tillakaratne Dilshan had a glint of mischief in his eye when he told the media what his team was going to do after they left Kingsmead on Thursday night
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Tillakaratne Dilshan had a glint of mischief in his eye when he told the media what his team was going to do after they left Kingsmead on Thursday night. "We're going to celebrate!" he said.

And why not? After eight attempts at winning a Test match in South Africa, they had finally done it in smashing style. After being left battered and bruised in Centurion, they came out with more fight than anyone thought they possessed and meted out a right-royal thrashing of the hosts. After being accused of having no match-winners, they bound together as a team to play a game of cricket most of them will never forget. So, yes, a celebration well deserved.

This year, I have seen some memorable cricket festivities. I was in Centurion when South Africa clinched the one-day series against India and toasted the night away. I was in Harare when Zimbabwe announced their return to Test cricket with a win over Bangladesh and was invited to their epic dhindhindi (party) at the team hotel. I was at Newlands when South Africa beat Australia and was working in the press box long enough to see Graeme Smith, his wife and a collection of friends gather on the Newlands pitch to celebrate 47 all out and a crazy win. So, I was interested to know what Sri Lanka got up to in Durban after making history at Kingsmead.

"We had a team drink and a few eats at the hotel," Anura Tennekoon, Sri Lankan team manager told me. "It was a fairly quiet celebration, we have another Test match to play." That's it? With popular beach bar Joe Cool's just across the road from the team hotel, I expected a little bit more than a social event which sounds so civilised. I wondered if Tennekoon was keeping something from me, but an early visit to the Durban beach-front told me he probably wasn't.

The Sri Lankan team were out there as well, playing a fierce match of beach soccer. Tennekoon said they decided to have a "light workout", but he was certainly not being entirely truthful about that. For over 90 minutes, under the roasting sun, with a stiff breeze, Sri Lanka played football.

Holiday makers wandered through their session, a few people stared curiously and some of us took pictures but they carried on, undeterred from their task. For a fleeting moment, I thought about whether the South African attack looked this determined when they came to the same sea for their recovery swim on Tuesday. Tennekoon's words came back to me, "We still have another match to play."

Since Sri Lanka arrived in South Africa, their quiet confidence has been striking. Initially most of them, including Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, said their main goal was just to win a Test here.

It's this determination that has made Sri Lanka so easy to warm to. They have not allowed anything, neither defeat, nor victory, to have too great an influence on their general character, so far. They've smiled without salaries and stressed the seriousness of improving their skills. Most importantly, they have not shied away from hard work.

One of the most likeable characters in the touring party is Tennekoon himself, who is polite, engaging and a true gentleman. I jokingly asked him how he was feeling this morning. He replied, in his typical soft-spoken style, "Well, when you win a Test match, you do get quite happy."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Former Sri Lankan Rugby Captain on January 3, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    Well our boys have beaten the South Africans in their own den , even if our boys fail in the 3rd test we got to be proud of them.

  • wravi on January 3, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    SA woke up the Lions., and Lions please do not go back to sleep!

  • nuan on January 3, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    Drop tharanga paranavitana useless angled bat technique and bring in a new opener.. suggestions are thirimanne, dimuth, or any other batting prospect

  • homraj yadav on January 2, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    well done lankan boys ....1nce again back in form..wat i personally feel sanga should must captain for next 4 yrs....go for altrnative to fernando and prioritize to chandimal in alll 3 formates..

  • amshar on January 2, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    yeah i agree with nobee and well done sl i am proud of my country

  • A former Sri Lankan Rugby Captain on January 2, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    We salute the victorious srilankan cricket team, the team played as gladiators at kingsmead, when you have played the game to your strengths and potential victories such as this will be in your bags. Keep it up.

  • smegmarani on January 2, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    As a diehard SA cricket fanatic I would class this win by the SL team more as a flash in the pan than a calculated effort. Lets wait for the third test B4 we elevate them on a pedestal. I'd bet my Nelson Mandela T-shirt that the SA team will swamp SL and put them where they really belong- at the bottom of the barrel along with eels and such like. SA for ever.

  • janaka on January 2, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Great great victory,no words to say friends,now be prepaired for next test at Cape Town,it will not be eazy,pls work your weak areas SL guys,Mathews as a vise captain you should do better than 2nd test,if we are going to win this we should bring Ajantha Mendis for the 3rd test,i'm sure we can easily win this,because SA players haven't faced much against him,why are we not going to get this advantage for winning the series,this is for you our selectors, "if you are going to play this test without Ajantha Mendis you all are real donkies",why should we play if we having resources like Ajantha.i'm sure SA players are forcussing on Herath these days,this is the time we should bring our spate A (Ajantha Mendis),pls do this,we need series victory,Good luck SL Players & selectors

  • Dasun on January 2, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    As a sl fans we should celebrate our victory while not criticize or laugh to saffers. That's not our cricket. Y we fall to kepler's class? So saf guys if u hurt by any annoying word 4m us beg ur pardon

  • Don Bandaranayake on January 2, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    Anura Tennekoon deserves all the plaudits and praise given in this article and comments. He has shown that gentlemen still exist in cricket, even in management. Well done Anura.

  • Former Sri Lankan Rugby Captain on January 3, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    Well our boys have beaten the South Africans in their own den , even if our boys fail in the 3rd test we got to be proud of them.

  • wravi on January 3, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    SA woke up the Lions., and Lions please do not go back to sleep!

  • nuan on January 3, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    Drop tharanga paranavitana useless angled bat technique and bring in a new opener.. suggestions are thirimanne, dimuth, or any other batting prospect

  • homraj yadav on January 2, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    well done lankan boys ....1nce again back in form..wat i personally feel sanga should must captain for next 4 yrs....go for altrnative to fernando and prioritize to chandimal in alll 3 formates..

  • amshar on January 2, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    yeah i agree with nobee and well done sl i am proud of my country

  • A former Sri Lankan Rugby Captain on January 2, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    We salute the victorious srilankan cricket team, the team played as gladiators at kingsmead, when you have played the game to your strengths and potential victories such as this will be in your bags. Keep it up.

  • smegmarani on January 2, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    As a diehard SA cricket fanatic I would class this win by the SL team more as a flash in the pan than a calculated effort. Lets wait for the third test B4 we elevate them on a pedestal. I'd bet my Nelson Mandela T-shirt that the SA team will swamp SL and put them where they really belong- at the bottom of the barrel along with eels and such like. SA for ever.

  • janaka on January 2, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Great great victory,no words to say friends,now be prepaired for next test at Cape Town,it will not be eazy,pls work your weak areas SL guys,Mathews as a vise captain you should do better than 2nd test,if we are going to win this we should bring Ajantha Mendis for the 3rd test,i'm sure we can easily win this,because SA players haven't faced much against him,why are we not going to get this advantage for winning the series,this is for you our selectors, "if you are going to play this test without Ajantha Mendis you all are real donkies",why should we play if we having resources like Ajantha.i'm sure SA players are forcussing on Herath these days,this is the time we should bring our spate A (Ajantha Mendis),pls do this,we need series victory,Good luck SL Players & selectors

  • Dasun on January 2, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    As a sl fans we should celebrate our victory while not criticize or laugh to saffers. That's not our cricket. Y we fall to kepler's class? So saf guys if u hurt by any annoying word 4m us beg ur pardon

  • Don Bandaranayake on January 2, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    Anura Tennekoon deserves all the plaudits and praise given in this article and comments. He has shown that gentlemen still exist in cricket, even in management. Well done Anura.

  • mike tillekaratne on January 1, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    sa will win the series.

  • Lionel Rajapakse on January 1, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    Mr. Kepler Wessels, Now that Sri Lankan Test Team has beaten South African Test Team, why not put forward you A-Team for the final Test at Newlands against Sri Lanka?

    Lionel Rajapakse Sri Lanka.

  • shiyaththa on January 1, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    I sicerely hope that powers that be in SriLanka take note of this win in SA and felicitate the SL cricketers when they return to SL. I also hope that Dilshan and co. dont blot their escutcheon by trying to emulate the Aussie 47 in the third and final test.Here's hoping against hope that SL will play as a team unit and put up a passable effort. Go SL u deserve better roll of the dice than what u've been getting of late.

  • ponmylanathan selliah on January 1, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    Yoo Hoo Mr keppler b----- wessels, I cant see your face due to it being covered in egg, and Sri Lankan eggs at that. Let this be a good lesson to you not to come out with big statements that lack substance in future. Let me jog your memory to remind you of the 500 run stand between Sanga and Mahela a few years back against SA. Now go back to your A team and do some constructive work there instead of taking valuable space with the national team. Good riddence of bad rubbish, yeh thats U.

  • SF on January 1, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    Great post Firdose, you have very rightly captured the true qualities of the common Sri Lankan man....committed, polite, friendly and respectful people who rely on hard work to succeed....

  • Dilshan Amarasinghe on January 1, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    well done boys, nothing is impossible, now target the third test & the one dayers, I feel Upul Tharanga should come instead Paranawithana, never drop Chandimal again even play him as a batsman he is our future star, Thisara sould be given more chances & he should ball wicket to wicket, all our pacies should make SA play at our ball do not waste deliveries. rest should be unchanged.

  • Umesh on January 1, 2012, 2:04 GMT

    Anura Tennekoon: one of the best stylish and and technically correct batsman World has ever seen and he is known to be a great Captain too.

  • skarunatilleka@yahoo.com on January 1, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    well said sir! anura tennakoon is a true gentleman, TRU SRILANKAN

  • Ruwan Maldeniya on January 1, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    Anura Tennekoon is a true gentleman, great cricketer and richly deserved to be the Manager of SL cricket team. What a great comeback for SL team in Durban. They silenced all critisism against them from all corners and turned the table around.

    Good luck for next match in Newlands!! Hurrah!!

  • Bin Sadoon on December 31, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    A classic case of being complacent in a sport. The tables have turned perhaps just for one match but it just goes to show that in any sport you cannot afford to take your foot of the pedal! When SL came to South Africa, Keppler Wessel had the audacity to state that a SA, "A" side could beat the Sri Lankans - indeed that stung such world class players as Kumar and Mahela and their riposte was forthcoming. The proteas have not let the cricketing world down with their "choking" tag - well done Sri Lanka for great comeback victory

  • deeshana galahitiyawa on December 31, 2011, 14:13 GMT

    its nice to hear what thay are doing,goin on the right track. now need to concentrate winning the other one. plese play dhammika prasad, he can bat as well, again bat first 350+..... put pressure ,play like LIONS, then celebrate the new year, MAY TRIPPLE GEM BLESS . cheers

  • Carshalton on December 31, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    Please be carefull playing football as that can be a dangerous game for your knee and ankle joints. I remember English cricket banned football at training after few injuries to their front line bowlers. SL batsmen made few mistakes but because SA batsmen made too many mistakes SL still ended up on the winning side. If you SL batsmen correct those mistakes and play positively you can compete against an extra focussed SA attack in the third test. SL fielders please keep supporting your bowlers. Good luck SL!

  • thush on December 31, 2011, 11:18 GMT

    luuuuve this piece.It has given me some nice pointers on how to celebrate my new year... Guys from the paradise isle to it in their style..

  • Nobee Perera on December 31, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    As per the statement made by Kepler Wessel, Sri Lanka team ready for Sounth Africa's 'A' Team. Third test sure for Sri Lanka winning and can't stop this young team winning against South Africa. Sri Lanka was the first team who beat South Africa in their first appearing ODI world cup game in Australia, year 1992.

  • Nobee Perera on December 31, 2011, 9:03 GMT

    As per the statement made by Kepler Wessel, Sri Lanka team ready for Sounth Africa's 'A' Team. Third test sure for Sri Lanka winning and can't stop this young team winning against South Africa. Sri Lanka was the first team who beat South Africa in their first appearing ODI world cup game in Australia, year 1992.

  • Nobee Perera on December 31, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    Third test Sri Lanka will dedicate to Kepler Wessle, this is good idea.

  • DrSaint on December 31, 2011, 7:18 GMT

    Yeah, they walk the talk and I am happy for my country men.

  • hashim urangpathy on December 31, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    this win is fantastic but the guys must try to win the next one or draw will be nice for the future of srilankan and team,i still like sanga should captain the team for another two years,he is the right person.chadimal better than any of the keeper even for ODI or twenty twenty.I am a cricket lover for more than fourty years.any comment sms to my email.hashim jura

  • Robert on December 31, 2011, 3:45 GMT

    See what happens when you PAY the cricketers their wages. Can any one,in his or her mind, imagine a person producing his best when not paid for more than six months. Even members of parliament will all go home. Well played Sri Lanka.

  • suduputha on December 31, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    That is the spirit of the Sri Lankan team. Very humble and down to earth. Very hardworking lads. Keep up the good name guys.

  • Lucky Weeramantry on December 31, 2011, 1:20 GMT

    Congratulations Sri Lanka You Fully Deserve The Celebrations. You Have Done The Impossible When It Mattered Most.SA Is A Choker Team. Sri Lanka Has Given Real Knockout Games To SA In The Past.SA Is Clueless Against Spin.Play Ajantha In Place Of Thisara.Good Luck For The 3rd Test. We're All Celebrating In Sri Lanka. Thank You Very Much!

  • Dhushan on December 30, 2011, 21:08 GMT

    I absolutely love the penultimate paragraph. Thanks for the nice & decent words. It makes me proud to be a Sri Lankan & a fanatic follower of the Lions. Our team is not up there with the crazy victory celebrations but like Anura himself said, we do have another match to play. Who is to say that IF we win the series, the team might surprise us all in their method of celebrations. PS: Am pretty sure they were playing footballon the beach. No idea what 'soccer' is

  • Sahan on December 30, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    Refreshing, proud to be a Sri Lankan well said we sri lankans are down to earth but very determined in achieving goals

  • oshan_nl@hotmail.com on December 30, 2011, 17:37 GMT

    Well Done SL!! But now we need to complete a series win in SA. Its not Done until its Done!! All the best!!!

  • Ruchira Widanage on December 30, 2011, 16:25 GMT

    Don't be so surprised.They spend few hours saying prayers in the dressing room the night day won the world cup 1996.

  • Ashroff on December 30, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    well done Sri Lanka you deserve the win...hope you can take the good work forward in other test matches...

    Good Luck to all ..

  • Rodney Smith on December 30, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    Its very apparent that when South Africa have a mountain to climb they cant even get over the first hill (the obvious exception been the 434 match). I cannot see South Africa recovering in the 3rd Test especially if they field the same side. Sri Lanka were immense and I hope that they can go on from here and win more matches away from the sub continent

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  • Rodney Smith on December 30, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    Its very apparent that when South Africa have a mountain to climb they cant even get over the first hill (the obvious exception been the 434 match). I cannot see South Africa recovering in the 3rd Test especially if they field the same side. Sri Lanka were immense and I hope that they can go on from here and win more matches away from the sub continent

  • Ashroff on December 30, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    well done Sri Lanka you deserve the win...hope you can take the good work forward in other test matches...

    Good Luck to all ..

  • Ruchira Widanage on December 30, 2011, 16:25 GMT

    Don't be so surprised.They spend few hours saying prayers in the dressing room the night day won the world cup 1996.

  • oshan_nl@hotmail.com on December 30, 2011, 17:37 GMT

    Well Done SL!! But now we need to complete a series win in SA. Its not Done until its Done!! All the best!!!

  • Sahan on December 30, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    Refreshing, proud to be a Sri Lankan well said we sri lankans are down to earth but very determined in achieving goals

  • Dhushan on December 30, 2011, 21:08 GMT

    I absolutely love the penultimate paragraph. Thanks for the nice & decent words. It makes me proud to be a Sri Lankan & a fanatic follower of the Lions. Our team is not up there with the crazy victory celebrations but like Anura himself said, we do have another match to play. Who is to say that IF we win the series, the team might surprise us all in their method of celebrations. PS: Am pretty sure they were playing footballon the beach. No idea what 'soccer' is

  • Lucky Weeramantry on December 31, 2011, 1:20 GMT

    Congratulations Sri Lanka You Fully Deserve The Celebrations. You Have Done The Impossible When It Mattered Most.SA Is A Choker Team. Sri Lanka Has Given Real Knockout Games To SA In The Past.SA Is Clueless Against Spin.Play Ajantha In Place Of Thisara.Good Luck For The 3rd Test. We're All Celebrating In Sri Lanka. Thank You Very Much!

  • suduputha on December 31, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    That is the spirit of the Sri Lankan team. Very humble and down to earth. Very hardworking lads. Keep up the good name guys.

  • Robert on December 31, 2011, 3:45 GMT

    See what happens when you PAY the cricketers their wages. Can any one,in his or her mind, imagine a person producing his best when not paid for more than six months. Even members of parliament will all go home. Well played Sri Lanka.

  • hashim urangpathy on December 31, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    this win is fantastic but the guys must try to win the next one or draw will be nice for the future of srilankan and team,i still like sanga should captain the team for another two years,he is the right person.chadimal better than any of the keeper even for ODI or twenty twenty.I am a cricket lover for more than fourty years.any comment sms to my email.hashim jura