South Africa v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Durban, 1st day December 26, 2011

Sri Lanka batsmen put up improved show


Sri Lanka 289 for 7 (Samaraweera 86*, Chandimal 58, de Lange 4-60) v South Africa
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Twenty-one-year-old tearaway Marchant de Lange joined the flood of exciting bowling talent coming in to Tests this year, but he couldn't prevent Sri Lanka from having their best day of the series in Durban. The oldest and youngest members in Sri Lanka's squad, Thilan Samaraweera and debutant Dinesh Chandimal, added 111 in the second half of the day after de Lange troubled the visitors with a pacy spell.

Tillakaratne Dilshan boldly set his floundering batting unit a challenge by choosing to bat on the usually fast-bowler friendly Kingsmead pitch. Several days of sunshine in the lead-up to the match, though, helped make the track flatter than normal, offering little swing for the quicks.

Dilshan's adventurousness continued when he batted - he attempted several flashy on-the-up drives, which he rarely middled though he also managed to avoid edging to the slip cordon. He and Tharanga Paranavitana saw off the challenge of a slightly out-of-sorts Dale Steyn and an improved Morne Morkel. But de Lange came on to transform the morning session.

Bowling off a surprisingly short run-up for someone who regularly hits the mid-140s, the 1.9m de Lange delivers the ball with a high-arm action that gives a trampoline effect to several of his deliveries. That, coupled with his tight line outside off, troubled Sri Lanka: first Paranavitana attempted a drive to a full ball, only to nick to the keeper, before Kumar Sangakkara got a peach that moved a hint away and forced him to play at, feathering through to Mark Boucher to give de Lange his second wicket in three deliveries.

Fears of a familiar Sri Lankan capitulation were eased as Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene set about rebuilding the innings. Dilshan's cavalier strokes started to come off, including a controlled pull off Steyn for four, and he also capitalised on some freebies from Imran Tahir. Jayawardene got the single he needed to become the first Sri Lankan to 10,000 Test runs and looked assured in the middle. One of the highlights of his innings was a flat six over square leg, off a short ball down the leg side from Tahir.

Dilshan was also given a hit-me ball by Tahir: a knee-high full toss outside leg stump. Dilshan, instead of taking advantage, slapped it straight to deep-backward square leg to end his innings on 47 and raise more questions about the captain's shot-selection. Jayawardene and Samaraweera struck a flurry of boundaries to take Sri Lanka to lunch without further damage. Soon after the break, though, Morkel was finally rewarded for his probing bowling, as he got one to swerve in and crash into Jayawardene's off stump.

For the fourth time in the day, Sri Lanka put on a promising partnership which ended before reaching 50. Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews picked off regular boundaries, some convincing, like a pull by Mathews off Steyn, and some unconvincing, like Samaraweera's streaky four to third man as he lifted his bat late. A gentle push by Mathews past mid-off for four brought up Sri Lanka's 150 before drinks, but just as the batsmen looked comfortable, a full toss did the job for South Africa again. de Lange was the beneficiary this time as Mathews punched it right back at the bowler.

Samaraweera dug in after that, but Chandimal didn't hold back. His first Test runs came off a cross-batted swat down the ground for four, and a volley of boundaries took him to 24 off 26. It wasn't all middle-of-the-bat stuff, though. He miscued one straight over the in-field and then nearly holed out in the final over before tea, as de Lange couldn't latch on to a mis-hit at mid-on.

The final session was almost all Sri Lanka as the partnership extended beyond 100. Samaraweera had his escapes against Tahir - a wrong no-ball call for overstepping on a delivery that resulted in a caught-and-bowled, Mark Boucher missed a stumping after the ball spun and kicked past the batsman and an edge landed just short of first slip - but he was more enterprising as well, lofting Tahir for boundaries down the ground soon after his half-century.

Chandimal was more controlled, preferring the singles though there were the occasional touches of audacity as well. A Steyn delivery was dabbed late to third man for four, Tahir was slogged to midwicket before a chop past point four brought up a half-century which rounded off a great day for debutants.

The light was fading and close of play was nearing when, yet again, South Africa were gift-wrapped a wicket. Morkel sent one short and well wide of offstump which Chandimal swished at without moving his feet, giving Boucher his third catch of the day. Samaraweera struggled with cramps and a testing spell from Steyn but remained on course for his first century outside Sri Lanka in nearly two years.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2011, 15:35 GMT


  • Habeeb on December 27, 2011, 9:27 GMT

    @; Qayyum Shehzad, how can you say that SL will lose by innings? Do remember SL has scored good amount of runs on the board and SA is prone to choking under pressure. Also batting last on this wicket will be difficult. Its all up to SL bowlers to put SA in difficult position.

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2011, 9:25 GMT

    far from enough, you need to post 450+ to give sa a problem

  • syed naveed on December 27, 2011, 8:49 GMT

    sanga ,jay and samra are all above 34 years old and all are having a batting average above50 / innings. according to mr dileep mendis, samra is not a member of future SL cricket team plan,does mr dileep has any thing personal against samra. he was given a chance and see he is scoring more runs now than the other dileep should reconsider is plan and policy.................

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    it would be another inings loss for srilanka to me

  • Bruce on December 27, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    I was impressed by both debutants yesterday. Chandimal played fearlessly and de Lange showed no nerves. I think both have a good future ahead of them. Chandimal, in particluar, looks a better player than the man he replaced. A much better performance from SL but it must still be concerning that batsmen are getting starts and then getting out (as opposed to being bowled out by unplayable deliveries). If SA can nick the last 3 out quickly then the game is evenly poised. I hope the weather doesn't deny us a result in this game because it's been set up nicely by SL's first innings.

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2011, 7:29 GMT

    Here's why Australia will not give up the Boxing Day test to SA, first 2 days in Melbourne 120,000 people in the ground...first day at Kingsmead 5,000 and a dog.

  • dilan on December 27, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    Actually , Dilshan is not lucky captain . normally captain already read the game before they play , but Dilshan is not a good captain , I hope samaraweera will be captain of sri lankan scout. He always plays freely and get runs on the board . but since last world cup mahela , sanga and other batsmen didn't give fullest support to sri lankan score board. Might be several players should come to this scout .specially Ajantha Mendis . then we can see some improvement in Test. hope sri lanka will be back track soon . best wishes for sri lanka.

  • Dru on December 27, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    SA will be the happier team after SL gifted several wickets on a flattish track. Sanga got a peach but the rest of the batters just gifted their wickets and Mahela played a poor defensive shot to a good ball. On this wicket SL should have been looking for 400+ but when last did SL get anything near that score when it mattered. Chandimal looked good on debut and still needs to improve shot selection including the shocker to get out at a vital time in the game but he is something SL can look forward to. I expect SA to be in the lead at the end of the day but this wicket could break up later making batting awfully difficult. Unless SL are able to bring about some panic in the SA batting, they will be batting to save the game on a difficult wicket by the 4th day.

  • Dummy4 on December 27, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    The player who should have captancy of the test side is Samaraweera . Chandimal is the best young talent SL has. there is no player than chandimal who is both aggresive and can keep trust . But what is going on. They have to fight for a place in the team . Administrators should think a bit.

  • No featured comments at the moment.