First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
It doesn't require much to convince me to attend an international contest at Newlands. Indeed, I'd probably turn up to watch an ODI between Kenya and the Netherlands. Suffice to say, the idea of missing an opportunity to watch a Test is a reality I'd rather avoid.
South Africa. Given the Proteas' excellent record at Newlands, their dominance in the first Test and their confidence-boosting Test series win down under, I initially predicted a victory for the home side. And with Sri Lanka teetering on 130 for 4 at the close of play on day three, a South Africa win, sometime during day four, was an almost certainty.
Kagiso Rabada. The industrious speedster obliterated any hope Sri Lanka had of manufacturing a draw by removing the experienced, middle-order trio of Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Upul Tharanga in quick succession.
One thing you'd have changed about the day
I would have liked Sri Lanka to have not lost any wickets on day four. I'm a fervent South Africa supporter, but I have come to enjoy those tense and enthralling day-five contests where all three results are possible. This is Test cricket, after all.
Rabada secured his second ten-wicket haul in only his 13th Test after dismissing Suranga Lakmal for 10 in the 52nd over. If he wasn't already a legend in the making, he is now.
Shot of the day
Rangana Herath brought up the 200 for Sri Lanka with a perfectly-executed reverse sweep in the 57th over off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj.
Despite the slightly cooler weather, the Newlands crowd was relatively sparse on day four. Even the Oaks grass embankment, which is generally choc-a-bloc, was barely half-full. The stands were sparsely populated with most spectators opting for seats in the shade. The crowd were almost mute during the first forty minutes of play, but livened up after Mathews was dismissed for 49 attempting to drive a Rabada delivery off the back foot in the 48th over. The Newlands faithful sensed victory was imminent, and they were right.
Fancy dress index
I noticed a couple wearing hats carved out of watermelons, and a young man in a neon green bodysuit donned a pink Afro wig and the South Africa flag as a makeshift cape. I also spotted a trio of gentlemen dressed up as Hashim Amla. They adorned Test whites, wide-brimmed hats and detachable beards. It seems to me that no matter how small the Newlands crowd is, you can always expect to see a watermelon hat and ardent Amla supporters.
The heat simply left no room for fancy dresses. I admire the courage of the few who had dared to paint their faces.
Tests v limited-overs
I maintain that Test cricket is the apex of the gentleman's game. It is the only format which thoroughly examines a player's skill, tactical abilities, stamina and powers of concentration. Although the excitement of Test cricket was not particularly evident today, there is generally very little that you can get from a T20 which you cannot derive from a Test match.
I opted to bring along a pair of binoculars, and it proved a wise decision. The clarity and focus of the visuals were so crisp that I could see fragments of the pitch bounce up when a batsman marked his guard. I felt like a fly on the helmet of a wicketkeeper. That, and my trusty iPod and head phones proved invaluable when a couple seated a row behind me decided to vociferously debate the quality of the England rugby team. We're at the cricket, folks.
Banner of the day
There were a number of banners on display. However, the poster which aptly summarised the day, and the hosts' sheer domination of the second Test, was: "Why did I bother buying Day-5 tickets?" I asked myself the same question.
Marks out of 10
7. South Africa may have secured another Test series win but Sri Lanka's middle-order could have at least tried to survive longer than the morning session.
An eco-friendly suggestion
After a day's play, the picturesque Newlands is littered with thousands of plastic cups, bottles and Styrofoam items. I think it would be wonderful if the stadium introduced designated recycling bins to reduce its carbon footprint and encourage eco-friendly living.
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