'Unknown' Kallis prompts demise of Sri Lanka

Charlie Austin

November 8, 2002

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South African Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour may not know who he is but Sri Lanka's batsmen need no introduction after the world's leading all-rounder, Jacques Kallis, ripped through their middle order on the opening day of the Castle Lager/MTN Test series at Wanderers on Friday.

Kallis would have had every right to feel aggrieved by the comments of Balfour, who has been quoted in the South Africa media of saying: "I don't go to Newlands to watch Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis, I go to watch Paul Adams and Makahaya Ntini...who is Jacques Kallis anyway?"

But the comments, although they clearly disappointed captain Shaun Pollock, had no adverse effect upon Kallis, who claimed three wickets in six balls shortly before the tea interval, snatching the initiative away from the Sri Lankans who were just starting to prosper.

Sanath Jayasuriya's side were eventually bowled out for 192, a total that severely dents their hopes of overcoming a disastrous record outside of the sub-continent and winning their first ever series against South Africa.

Sri Lanka's day did not improve in the field either, as South Africa finished with a solid opening partnership between Gary Kirsten, who passed 6000 Test runs, and Graeme Smith that has so far yielded 51 runs.

Mahela Jaywardene (39) and Sanath Jayasuriya (32) had added 51 runs after the loss of three top order wickets for 86, threatening to lay the foundations for the kind of score that the tourists would have been looking for having decided to bat first after winning the toss.

But Kallis, who had only just recovered from a hamstring injury that had threatened his participation in this game, broke through with an outswinger that caught the outside edge of Jayawardene's defensive bat.

In his next over he surprised Jayasuriya with a well-directed short delivery that the Sri Lankan captain, batting in his new position of number five, fended off into the safe hands of Graeme Smith at third slip.

Three balls later debutante Hasantha Fernando (0) betrayed his experience, unwisely attempting an ambitious hook. Gary Kirsten clung onto a good catch running back from short leg.

When Chaminda Vaas guided another catch into the slips in the last over before tea, Sri Lanka had lost four wickets in the space of 17 deliveries, collapsing from the relative comfort of 137 for three to 141 for seven.

After the break Hashan Tillakaratne and the tail eked out 51 valuable runs, ten of which were scored by a smiling Muttiah Muralitharan who swung his first delivery from Pollock for six and then drilled Easterns all-rounder Andrew Hall straight down the ground before holing out at long leg.

For the Sri Lankans it was a thoroughly disappointing day. All the batsmen had come into the Test having spent time at the crease during the warm-up games and were desperate to show that they could perform on the fast-bowler friendly surfaces expected in South Africa.

In the event, Jayasuriya may have rued his decision to bat first. Pollock claimed that he would have bowled first, understandable given the fact that his selectors had opted for a five-pronged pace attack in the morning after seeing the green-tinged wicket.

Indeed, his seamers did extract considerable seam movement during the morning, regularly beating the bat. But of the first three Sri Lankan wickets to fall, all the batsmen contributed to their downfall.

Russel Arnold (0) pushed hard at a short delivery from Makhaya Ntini that he would with hindsight have preferred to leave alone. Kumar Sangakkara (26) was guilty of hanging on the back foot when he should have come forward and Marvan Atapattu (34) wasted a lot of hard work when he drove loosely against the probing Pollock.

Earlier in the day, Hershcelle Gibbs was forced out of the final XI minutes before the toss after sustaining a back injury during the team warm-up. The team management were forced to send an emergency SOS to Martin van Jaarsveld, who was practicing with his domestic club in Pretoria at the time.

The South African selectors had gambled with their original selection, leaving out left-arm spinner Claude Henderson, their only slow bowling option. They made the surprise decision to include the inform Hall ahead of Mornantau Hayward.

Sri Lanka included left-arm seamer Perera for the first time since he was reported for having a suspect action during the Lord's Test earlier this year. They also gave a first cap to all-rounder Hasantha Fernando.

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Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
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