South Africa v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Durban, 4th day December 29, 2011

Herath spins Sri Lanka to famous win


Sri Lanka 338 (Samaraweera 102, Chandimal 58, de Lange 7-81) and 279 (Sangakkara 108, Chandimal 54, Steyn 5-73) beat South Africa 168 (Amla 54, Welegedara 5-52, Herath 4-49) and 241 (de Villiers 69, Amla 51, Herath 5-79) by 208 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

As predicted the Durban Test was a one-sided affair, except that it was the no-hopers from Sri Lanka who were doing the dominating. A year that has gone rapidly downhill for Sri Lanka since their World Cup final appearance in April, including an interminable run of series defeats and a bankrupt board struggling to pay players, ended on the most unexpected of highs as they secured their first Test success in South Africa.

A Sri Lanka victory that will rank alongside the path-breaking one at The Oval 15 years ago as the greatest in their history was within reach as South Africa's batting crumbled after lunch on the fourth day at Kingsmead. The parties in Sri Lanka were delayed by a long stand between AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn, who batted out most of the final session before Rangana Herath struck minutes before close to ease any anxiety building up. The final three wickets went down in four deliveries and a fantastic year for Test cricket ended with the biggest upset of 2011.

South Africa's batting had been solid in the morning, and they would have been satisfied with the start to their attempt at a world-record chase of 450 despite losing the wicket of Graeme Smith. With Hashim Amla in imperious form, South Africa had reached a reasonably comfortable 86 for 1 by lunch, but over the next hour they lost four wickets and even their flimsy hopes of ending their three-Test losing run at Durban evaporated.

The collapse began in the first over after the break, when Jacques Rudolph's resistance ended - and with it perhaps his recently-revived Test career, temporarily at least. As so often in his second coming at the Test level, he was caught in the slip cordon - this time nicking a wide delivery from Thisara Perera.

Jacques Kallis has been in patchy form recently, including a duck in the first innings, but his record in the second innings of Tests is unimpeachable. If South Africa were to salvage something from the Test, they needed another Kallis special. Unfortunately for him, there were no match-turning heroics as he top-edged a sweep on to his helmet to give short leg a catch. In his 149th Test, he bagged his first pair.

If that blow left South Africa unsteady, they were on the mat soon after as Amla, till then producing a masterclass in off-side strokeplay, was run out after attempting a kamikaze single. He punched the ball straight to mid-on and dashed across for the run though Ashwell Prince showed no interest, and stayed firmly at the non-striker's end. Prince, with his Test career on the line, then had to face a lifter from Dilhara Fernando, that he could only glove towards slip. With South Africa at 116 for 5, the fans could start partying in Sri Lanka.

The Prince dismissal was an almost exact replica of Smith's earlier in the day. Fernando, used as early as the ninth over this time after his delayed introduction in the first innings, started with his usual no-ball, raising snickers, but there was no laughing later in the over when he got a delivery to leap at Smith. The batsman attempted to ride the bounce, instead of dropping his hands and letting the ball through, and could only glove a catch to slip.

Besides Fernando, South Africa's main worry was the left-arm spin of Herath. On Wednesday, South Africa had been given a glimpse of what was to come when two successive deliveries from Imran Tahir spun and kicked off a length to comfortably beat the batsman and the wicketkeeper. With the ball turning, Herath varied his flight and angle, to relentlessly probe the South African batsmen's techniques. He was rewarded with the huge wicket of Kallis, and just before tea he added the scalp of Mark Boucher, another man whose place in the side is under scrutiny.

AB de Villiers gamely fought on, but there was little he could do to lift South Africa from their hopeless situation. He and Steyn defied the bowling for 34 overs - another reminder to the batting unit that failed twice in this match that the surface wasn't unplayable.

Steyn had been central to South Africa's promising start to the day as well. In the first innings, he had gone wicketless in a completed innings for the first time since 2008, and he responded second time round with his 17th Test five-for to bring a quick end to the Sri Lankan innings.

There was some classic tail-end batting from Sri Lanka in the morning but their resistance lasted only about half an hour. It didn't matter much, given how far ahead Sri Lanka had already got after the first three days of the Test.

The biggest monkey on the back in the game, if measured by column inches, would be Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred, but the bigger one is Sri Lanka failing to win a Test for nearly a year-and-a-half since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan. They have got that off their backs - in style and on a great stage - setting up a tantalising decider in Cape Town.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • athula on December 31, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    We had good first innings score in this match to thank Samaraweera who made a fantastic hundred in first innings and batted well in the second innings.That is why we won this match.If Samaraweera not selected for this tour this match also could have lost for us.So Dilshan must be thank to Samaraweera. we lost last all matches bc we haven't a good first innings scores and therefore we were in always behind to the opposition from the begining of the match.If Samaraweera could have played for the Pakistan series in U.A.E we could have won that series.He got 2 double centuries in pakistan when he played with them in last occation.

  • Ramzi on December 31, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    @Anon11 u should relise wt the reasn SRI LANKAN fans talking like this and i think they hv every resn to talk such a 1st class cricketer i knw hw to respct team vr going to play.and international cricketer should knw to respct a international side like SL.he 4gtn lions hv a couple of world class talant nd lankans always playing as a unit nt lyk south african whm try to depend on more then couple of own truth is they never play as a unit datz y they dnt do well in pressue situtions.

  • Amal on December 31, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    @anon11, SL fans have not shown any big mouths here. Their team has been unreasonably condemned, and now they are delighted, after their team's great performance. Do not expect all to be perfect like you. Having said that, I too predict 80:20 SA win, because of their superb bowling attack.

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    @piyo thanda 'after playing thirty years in sa ?' i want to give you a information that SA started their international cricket in 1992 after a ban.if we calculate this things there playing test cricket for 19 years after the we play 30 years in SA.plese have some cricket knowledge before commenting. chillax.

  • I on December 31, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    @ Ryan Stephen Being a SL fan i too agree with you. I see many SL fans insult Kepler wessels unnecessary. Wessels underestimated the SL tm and the tm give him n all the critics a reply.Earlier I too somewhat agreed with Kepler abt our balling attack. it s true media make a hype abt all the things, these ppl dnt understnd that. But not every SL fan is like that.My mind tells me, SA win the 3rd test because of SL fans big mouth.

  • Charles on December 31, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    @ Max Ratnatunge: Buddy, your statement should say 'Thanks to my Pakistani brothers and sisters' as Fatima and Faryal are girls :) @ Amol_Ind_SA: My friend, there may be some truth in your statement; but let me assure you that the majority of us Pakistani are respectful of the Indian team, and do hold them in awe. As a matter of fact, all cricket lovers love and respect all good players. Peace to all. Cricket and its followers rock!!!!

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2011, 22:24 GMT

    All these inflated reactions toward kepler expose a serious degree of insecurity within SL fans, you guys need to understand that the media ALWAYS blow things out of proportion, it's their job to create a stir, that's how they make their money. Watch how South Africans are branded chokers almost everytime we lose a match. Sorry for not being invincible

  • Alex on December 30, 2011, 21:16 GMT

    i am outsider. Rangana herath is like zaheer khan. wiley and cunning and fighter to some extent. He can be game winning bowler if he has enough support. With welegadara , he can be good against any team especially he can be good against pakistan because pakistanis are agressive. Anyone aggressive against herath tend to get out. if you are aggressive suddenly he see lots of option to get out. One mistake is good enough. Only controlled aggression works well against herath. I still think he is a good find. They won't find another murali though. Murali had a skill that can wrap up all tail. Rangana is more good bowler against top6 not against tail. He may get lucked out here. He is more good against good batsman.

  • M on December 30, 2011, 21:16 GMT

    Absolutely brilliant victory! Thrilled and most happy for SL - this is coming from a Pakistani fan! SL's recent performances had been disheartening - but they have turned it around - great call for Mahela to captain again! Love the Lankan team - good luck for the next matches guys!

  • josh on December 30, 2011, 21:02 GMT

    I just want to say about people who wriitten off SL with short term failure, SL always underdogs they could bounce back unexpectedly and SL matches are always interesting to watch as always some excitements.

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