South Africa v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Durban, 3rd day December 28, 2011

Sri Lanka find their self-belief

47

For three consecutive innings, Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed by good, wicket-taking deliveries. Unlike some of his team-mates or even his opposition, Sangakkara did not spend enough time at the crease to play a poor shot. And it looked like he would not get that chance today either.

Another superb delivery, a tempting one outside the off stump, induced a poke and Sangakkara should have been out for three. Instead he went on to make 108, stamp his authority on the situation, the match and one of three countries in which he had not recorded a century until today. It was only a matter of time, really, given Sangakkara's status as a class act, on the field, off the field and around the world.

"If the luck works for you on a particular day, you have to try and capitalise," said Sangakkara. "You can't go into a negative frame of mind at any time, especially against good attacks. I am watching the ball a lot better than I was in the first few innings. Once I got to the 60s and the 70s, it was a case of waiting for the bad balls."

Hittable deliveries came often, especially after lunch, when South Africa dished up short ball after short ball, which went from threatening to tame fairly rapidly. Their game plan was indecipherable as they failed to find a balance between drying up runs and taking wickets, which allowed Sri Lanka to cash in on an indecisive opposition. "Once you get to a certain total in front of the opposition, they have to go into a defensive mode," Sangakkara said, admitting it freed him up to score runs.

Besides his individual effort, Sangakkara shared two key partnerships, first withThilan Samaraweera, with whom he put on 94, and then Dinesh Chandimal, in a stand of 104. He credited with both with being essential to Sri Lanka's new found sense of self-belief.

"Thilan was out of the side and had come back in for a very tough tour. To do what he did in that first innings for us was incredible. It was a make or break series for the guy," he said. "Chandimal has shown that he is strong, both physically and mentally. He showed he was not overawed by the situation or the South African attack."

Now that Sri Lanka have overcome the mental barrier of the situation and the team they are playing against, they have a loftier target in mind. "We'd like to get into a dominant position and dictate terms," said Sangakkara. "Our target is to get as many as we can and make the South Africa work really hard to save the game."

Even though South Africa will have to achieve a world-record chase to win the match, Sangakkara said "nothing is beyond the realms of possibility" and the team is gearing up for a tough fight. On a pitch which still has "a bit of inconsistent bounce" Sri Lanka's bowling attack will have to make good use of the conditions and work well with their resources.

Sangakkara expects Rangana Herath to be a key factor in the search for a first Test victory in South Africa. "He is going to be very important for us. If he can get some turn and bowl with the same control, he will be a handful to play on this track," said Sangakkara. "Our pace attack has got to do a lot to take early wickets and get us breakthroughs with the new ball."

Before Sri Lanka arrived on this tour, they were labelled no-hopers especially in terms of their bowling. Kepler Wessels said even South Africa A would be able to beat them. It is a comment that stung and that, Sangakkara said, also spurred them on. "Comments can inspire sides; pressure situations make sides rise to the occasion. We proved that we have the ability to counter-attack," he said.

Now they want to prove that to South Africa too. "The best way we can make it count is to get them out," he said. "We have to control the aggression, have positive mindsets and at no point lose control of our emotions."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • tinkumad on December 30, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    Congratulations Sri Lanka... keep up the good work!!!

  • on December 29, 2011, 16:22 GMT

    Kepler Wessels .... ?????? LOL LOL

  • on December 29, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    HAHa! Wessels said an SA-A team would beat SL!!! now what does he have to say! PROUD TO BE LANKAN!!!

  • prashkannam on December 29, 2011, 16:09 GMT

    LETS SEE WHAT MR VERNON PHILANDER OR THE NEW KID PACER OF SAF DO ON SLOWER TRACKS OF SUBCONTINENT.....C'MON GREEN TRACKERS ....U R GUD ONLY UR BOUNCY TRACKS ONLY!! WELL PLAYED SRILANKA

  • prashkannam on December 29, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    SOUTH AFRICANS ARE CHOKERS NOTHING MORE THAN THAT..............THEY WOULD PROBABLY WIN A GAME OR 2 ON GREEN TRACKS....THTS WHY MR MOONDA FROM SOUTH AFRICA ALSO KEEPS ON THIS HOME BRED GREEN TRACK BULLY TEAM OVERRATING THIS OUTHAFRICAN TEAM ON THEIR OWN HOME CONDITIONS....EXCEPT STEYN OR MORKEL THE REST OF THE SO CALLED MEDIUM PACER WHEN THEY COME TO SUBCONTINENT WILL STRUGGLE ON OUR TURNERS AND THEN MR GRAEME SMITH WILL KEEP ON CRYIN SAYING THIS IS THE WORST PITCH WE HAVE PLAYED ON....PLEASE SOUTH AFRICA IS A OVER RATED TEAM AND THEIR TEAM WILL STRUGGLE ON UNHELPFUL CONDITIONS...ITS JUST THAT THEIR STRENGTHS ARE OVERPROJECTED IN SOUTHAFRICA!!

  • KosalaDeSilva on December 29, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    it's not really flat track, it was good enough fast bowlers.Flat track you can find in india and Sri Lanka (like SSC). That shows when they don't have advantage with distance they can't manage to win. Let's see they make another green and well bias wicket for third test.what will ICC say? when they say too bad to make slow and spinning wicket like in Gall,what about these green wickets SL had in England and first test in SA? good?

  • on December 29, 2011, 15:48 GMT

    Well done Sri lanka.. Shame on you Kepler Wessels, Donald and all the jobless bloggers criticised lankan team.. watchout guys LIONS R BACK!!!

  • TYJAY on December 29, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    i still think there is a little chance SA might win this game. I think SL is short of another 50 runs. Will seeeeeeeee

  • IanJF on December 29, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    News just in - Kepler Wessles padding up to bat @ No. 8

  • stormy16 on December 29, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    A lot is being read in to a game that still has two days to go. Granted SL have done a terrific job to get to this position and yes I think SA showed no respect for an opponent who was down, which is never a good idea. I think the best thing to come from this game thus far is Chandimal who showed amazing maturity and ability in his first test sharing two 100 run partnerships - the only two in the game after 3 innings. Was notable the way he handled the short ball with little or no problems. For SL to claim self belief they still need to win this game.

  • tinkumad on December 30, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    Congratulations Sri Lanka... keep up the good work!!!

  • on December 29, 2011, 16:22 GMT

    Kepler Wessels .... ?????? LOL LOL

  • on December 29, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    HAHa! Wessels said an SA-A team would beat SL!!! now what does he have to say! PROUD TO BE LANKAN!!!

  • prashkannam on December 29, 2011, 16:09 GMT

    LETS SEE WHAT MR VERNON PHILANDER OR THE NEW KID PACER OF SAF DO ON SLOWER TRACKS OF SUBCONTINENT.....C'MON GREEN TRACKERS ....U R GUD ONLY UR BOUNCY TRACKS ONLY!! WELL PLAYED SRILANKA

  • prashkannam on December 29, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    SOUTH AFRICANS ARE CHOKERS NOTHING MORE THAN THAT..............THEY WOULD PROBABLY WIN A GAME OR 2 ON GREEN TRACKS....THTS WHY MR MOONDA FROM SOUTH AFRICA ALSO KEEPS ON THIS HOME BRED GREEN TRACK BULLY TEAM OVERRATING THIS OUTHAFRICAN TEAM ON THEIR OWN HOME CONDITIONS....EXCEPT STEYN OR MORKEL THE REST OF THE SO CALLED MEDIUM PACER WHEN THEY COME TO SUBCONTINENT WILL STRUGGLE ON OUR TURNERS AND THEN MR GRAEME SMITH WILL KEEP ON CRYIN SAYING THIS IS THE WORST PITCH WE HAVE PLAYED ON....PLEASE SOUTH AFRICA IS A OVER RATED TEAM AND THEIR TEAM WILL STRUGGLE ON UNHELPFUL CONDITIONS...ITS JUST THAT THEIR STRENGTHS ARE OVERPROJECTED IN SOUTHAFRICA!!

  • KosalaDeSilva on December 29, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    it's not really flat track, it was good enough fast bowlers.Flat track you can find in india and Sri Lanka (like SSC). That shows when they don't have advantage with distance they can't manage to win. Let's see they make another green and well bias wicket for third test.what will ICC say? when they say too bad to make slow and spinning wicket like in Gall,what about these green wickets SL had in England and first test in SA? good?

  • on December 29, 2011, 15:48 GMT

    Well done Sri lanka.. Shame on you Kepler Wessels, Donald and all the jobless bloggers criticised lankan team.. watchout guys LIONS R BACK!!!

  • TYJAY on December 29, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    i still think there is a little chance SA might win this game. I think SL is short of another 50 runs. Will seeeeeeeee

  • IanJF on December 29, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    News just in - Kepler Wessles padding up to bat @ No. 8

  • stormy16 on December 29, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    A lot is being read in to a game that still has two days to go. Granted SL have done a terrific job to get to this position and yes I think SA showed no respect for an opponent who was down, which is never a good idea. I think the best thing to come from this game thus far is Chandimal who showed amazing maturity and ability in his first test sharing two 100 run partnerships - the only two in the game after 3 innings. Was notable the way he handled the short ball with little or no problems. For SL to claim self belief they still need to win this game.

  • anver777 on December 29, 2011, 6:46 GMT

    This is the SL team we know in the past.......... good to see team's confidence is back courtesy of Wessels.... keep going guys u can do it !!!!!

  • Balumekka on December 29, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    Did anybody see Kepler Wessels??? The guy seems to be missing since two days!!!!

  • arthurn on December 29, 2011, 6:29 GMT

    when kepler was mentioning about the the south african 'A' team was he referring to the england team?? Why england? most of the players in the english team were either born in south africa or had some connections with the country. :)

  • aa61761 on December 29, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    SL will win this test and salvage their pride, and hopefully draw the series. SL has found their new strike fast bowler. Now all they need is some one to standup in spin department. Good Luck Sri Lanka.

  • rukii on December 29, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    I agrre with Sampath De Silva and i want to see mahela dilshan and mathews scores in the last test match. South African cricket board should name the their A side to the 3rd test match.(according to kepler wessels their A side is a better side than the national team ) I dont think payments had impact on this match, sri lnakan players always try to play at their best.

  • on December 29, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    Green track bullies struggling in a flat track

  • nickydude on December 29, 2011, 4:19 GMT

    Isn't it surprising when Sanga says "make it hard for SA to save the game. Why cant he say, SL will try to win the game. Won't be really surpised, if this ends in a draw, considering SL's draw mentality even in a winning position.

  • on December 29, 2011, 3:31 GMT

    Game is still not over. SL have done enough 2 shut KV's mouth. He still choking. Only rain can help SA. SL need 4 sessions to get them out, think they will come close to the total. So better to add another 50 quickly n the morning. Blessings 2 Lions.......

  • on December 29, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    Kepler Wessels is news maker not an analyzer.

  • Zakomorano on December 29, 2011, 3:00 GMT

    It seems like Dilshan would lead Srilanka to a record breaking victory in South Africa.........ha ha ha what a comedy of errors.

  • ami77 on December 29, 2011, 2:53 GMT

    Sangakkara is a classy batsman on the field and classy gentleman off the field. And he is very humble and down to earth. That's what I like him most over any other SL cricket players. Only the great performance would not create a great character like Sanga. All the best to the debutant Chandimal as well. He has a great future if he could manage to stay safe from SL selectors.

  • ChandraPrince on December 29, 2011, 2:02 GMT

    I can take my hat off to Sanga for the class cricketer he is-- and the man he strives to be. I am proud that he's Sri Lankan. Above all we are all human. And I know that's what Sanga aims at being-- better person through cricket. To me Sangakkara personifies cricket. What's the point of playing cricket, if you end up like Kepler Wessels? We can do without the hubris and the nastiness. I know Cricket is a game that allow us to be better than who we are. But some of us have to roll in the mud once in a while, and that can't be helped. It's wonderful to see Sri Lankan's emerge out of the recent rut. It's great to see the Sri Lanka cricketers dominant once again, which only do justice to their talent. It was horrific to witness all that wonderfulness going to waste. I still think Sri Lankans are long away from celebrating. They have to play consistently good cricket, keep up the momentum, learn and grow -- but be watchful. Be mindful and humble and no self-defeating hubris please...

  • prksinghg on December 29, 2011, 1:51 GMT

    still sri lanka have lot more things to be sorted out.they still have problems in their bowling department. here RH and CW have shown lot of promises, but we still need more aggressive and speedy seamers. on the other hand we need to work out our injury issues.on spinning department RH is almost 33 and may have left only 2 to 3 more years to play.and there is no sign of an outstanding player at school or club level. Best thing to do at the moment is to concentrate more on our seamers and work on their physical level and variations of their bowling. on the other hand their are no much worries regarding our batting unit since their are plenty of young blood available on the market to take up the future in the lights of bhanuka ,angelo perera , chandimal etc etc

  • on December 29, 2011, 0:50 GMT

    actually its a bit of a embarrassment for Kepler Wessels........take back your words KV........SA is not all that.....

  • on December 29, 2011, 0:18 GMT

    0,1,2,3 er 108! It's upto SL bowlers to hold their nerve and deliver another disciplined effort with good line and length. Fielders too not to drop any catches and be on their toes.

  • TYJAY on December 28, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    Good knock by Sanga. Some of the his team members played ugly shots and got out.

    I think Angelo Mathew, Dilshan, Paranavitana should be dropped for third test.

    I think Dilshan and Angelo should be focusing on shorter version of the game.They cannot play test cricket. Oweful and ugly display !!!!!

    All the best. Hope SL can win this test.

    Hey do not under estimate SA. They even chased 431 in 50 overs against AUS.

  • erangaw on December 28, 2011, 23:06 GMT

    Seriously! I think SA board listen to the Kepler Wessels and send South Africa A team to play against SRI LANKA. wow what a brave decision.

  • suve on December 28, 2011, 21:52 GMT

    It was quite funny, all the south african bowlers went to beach straight after sl 1st innings and half an hour later the score was 27/3 and they had to rush back to the ground. I wonder what they would of done if they lost a couple more and didnt have any batsmen in the ground, would all the batsmen be timed out or something ????

  • on December 28, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    I don't believe the Proteas wrote Sri-Lanka off before this test, but I think that they definitely underestimated them, to some degree at least, after having won the first test so convinsingly. This is a big mistake against any team, any international team whatsoever, even the likes of Holland or Scotland if they should play at this level against the Proteas. At least the Proteas are big enough to admit that they have batted very poorly and we know that they are certainly able to to fight back. The have, however, dug themselves a massive hole out of which to try and escape, at least a hole of 450 runs deficit. They must believe they can get these runs; there is enough overs left . . . approx. 170 odd. Only if they see that they can definitely not win this test any more, while they still have 2 batsmen at the crease, should they begin to bat for the draw.

  • shamic on December 28, 2011, 21:28 GMT

    Shame on Kepler,It's not like a journalist commenting when it comes to an ex international cricketer commenting,Where has kepler being playing his game of cricket and he fails to realise that every team has its up and downs and you could never write off any side today...............he should put his foot where his mouth is ,Well done Sri Lanka for the great courage shown in south Africa.........2 century on south african soil and yet one to be scored by a south african in this test.................

  • NZMahesh on December 28, 2011, 21:02 GMT

    Players of Kummar's caliber deliver when in need.He is the number one bat and he proved it. Kepler should realize SA are chokers.Please eat you words and bring your A team.

  • on December 28, 2011, 20:55 GMT

    Didn't SL lose in England? Keppler was right I guess, South Africa A did beat them

  • MalikAnasAhmad on December 28, 2011, 20:42 GMT

    Shame on KV ...........................................x(

  • kabe_ag7 on December 28, 2011, 20:27 GMT

    Kepler Wessels had written off India in similar manner and had to eat his words. Hope he'd be careful at least from now on.

  • on December 28, 2011, 20:03 GMT

    shame on Kepler Wessels

  • Shahul74 on December 28, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    Kepler Wessels and Robin Jackman are still in the woods trying to reason how a talented side such as the SA got out for 168. Yes they are talented and have a great record, but it is people like KW who bring complacency into the minds of their team. One of the golden rules of any sport is to respect your opponent, which S African senior cricketers and media failed to do. Even after the fighting first innings of Samaraweera the SA bowlers had gone to the beach and had to rush back due to their batting collapse. For me this is the hight of complacency. We as Sri Lankans, I hope will never take any opposition lightly and learn a lesson from this South African failure.

  • on December 28, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    Who founds self belief???????????.Sanga always had self believeness and was unfortunate to face unpayable deliveries in last 3 innings.Thilan always had self belief though the selction idots had other ideas.Dinesh Chandimal showed his self beliveness in his first appearance.The players who lost their self belivness from the beginning of pakistani tour & even beyond Aussie tour,Para,Dily,Mahela & Angi are still not playing with self belif.

  • on December 28, 2011, 19:01 GMT

    " Kepler Wessels said even South Africa A would be able to beat them." i repeat Kepler Wessels said even South Africa A would be able to beat them. #SA= chokers.

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    well said sanga,truly a great player.

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    It looks like SL players found their touch back after paying their salaries :)

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    sanga you can pass a beer to kepler after the game , say thanks for the courage given..sometime those comments wors.especially to sri lankans.

  • docgtb on December 28, 2011, 18:18 GMT

    haha the flat track bullies have scored 2 hundrends aganist the worlds best attack

  • ratedstfu44 on December 28, 2011, 18:16 GMT

    Game is not over yet. Like SAngakkara, G.Smith is also very good 2nd Innings Player. So, first need to get out Smith quickly.

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    Well done Sanga, one of the all time great batsman the world ever seen, and SL can ull off a victory

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:05 GMT

    Sangakkara is all about class, he has the ability to lift Sri Lankan Cricket team with his front line batting ... One of the best Stroke player in World Cricket & so elegant..

    When he will retired i guess he will be known as Best ever Sri lankan batsma to Carry the burden of Ranatunga, Desilva & Jayasurya's shoulder ..

  • rustyryan on December 28, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    Sanga, a true class act....

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    I feel sorry for Kepler Wessels.lol.If Sri Lanka win this match i'd love to see Wessels doing the post match presentation.

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  • on December 28, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    I feel sorry for Kepler Wessels.lol.If Sri Lanka win this match i'd love to see Wessels doing the post match presentation.

  • rustyryan on December 28, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    Sanga, a true class act....

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:05 GMT

    Sangakkara is all about class, he has the ability to lift Sri Lankan Cricket team with his front line batting ... One of the best Stroke player in World Cricket & so elegant..

    When he will retired i guess he will be known as Best ever Sri lankan batsma to Carry the burden of Ranatunga, Desilva & Jayasurya's shoulder ..

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    Well done Sanga, one of the all time great batsman the world ever seen, and SL can ull off a victory

  • ratedstfu44 on December 28, 2011, 18:16 GMT

    Game is not over yet. Like SAngakkara, G.Smith is also very good 2nd Innings Player. So, first need to get out Smith quickly.

  • docgtb on December 28, 2011, 18:18 GMT

    haha the flat track bullies have scored 2 hundrends aganist the worlds best attack

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    sanga you can pass a beer to kepler after the game , say thanks for the courage given..sometime those comments wors.especially to sri lankans.

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    It looks like SL players found their touch back after paying their salaries :)

  • on December 28, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    well said sanga,truly a great player.

  • on December 28, 2011, 19:01 GMT

    " Kepler Wessels said even South Africa A would be able to beat them." i repeat Kepler Wessels said even South Africa A would be able to beat them. #SA= chokers.