Sri Lanka in South Africa 2011-12 December 30, 2011

'We choked them really nicely' - Jayasuriya


Sanath Jayasuriya believes Sri Lanka's historic win over South Africa in Durban could rival their triumph over England at The Oval 13 years ago as the country's most significant victory outside the subcontinent. Jayasuriya, the former Sri Lanka captain, scored a sensational double-hundred while Muttiah Muralitharan took 16 wickets in that match, which was achieved under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga. The Kingsmead win was Sri Lanka's first since Muralitharan retired 16 months ago and gave Tillakaratne Dilshan his first success as captain.

"This win is very important because of all these dramas the cricketers have gone through," a delighted Jayasuiya told ESPNcricinfo. "The team has not been doing well and they have had some administrative problems and mentally, they were quite down. They have done a very good thing now and they are on a high."

Russell Arnold, who was in Sri Lanka's squad for the 1998 England tour, told ESPNcricinfo in his post-match analysis he regarded the South African success as even sweeter than the win over England because of the current state of the team. With two of their bowling stalwarts, Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas, retired and their impressive batting line-up, which includes Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, constantly under-performing in the last six months, Arnold said Sri Lanka's performance in Durban defied belief. No-one, not even Arnold, thought they would be able to compete and challenge South Africa on home soil.

Sri Lanka were shot out for 180 and 150 in the first Test in Centurion and Jayasuriya said their failure to adapt to conditions was worrying, but not insurmountable. On a less hostile surface, which allowed for a more even contest between bat and ball, it was South Africa who looked unable to adjust. Sri Lanka boasted two hundreds in the match, having only had one of their countrymen score a century in South Africa before, as both Thilan Samaraweera and Sangakkara achieved milestones.

"We choked them really nicely, We've seen with their history when it comes to crunch situations they don't do well."
Sanath Jayasuriya

"It was exactly what I said before. We needed partnerships and one of the top six to get a hundred. That was the key," Jayasuriya said, "Once we were able to put on more than 300, it gives the bowlers something to work with." Sri Lanka scored 338 in the first innings, thanks to Samaraweera's efforts and a crucial partnership with debutant wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal.

The bowlers made use of the uneven bounce and turn out of the rough to run through South Africa for 168 and then Sangakkara returned to form with a century that took the match away from the hosts. Sangakkara had scores of 1, 2 and 0 in his previous three innings and was dropped on 3 in Durban, something which Jayasuriya said would have been his signal to end his barren patch. "Any batsman will hurt a lot after going through a bad patch," said Jayasuriya. "But he got a chance and capitalised on it. When Sanga gets a start, he goes on to make big runs."

Chandimal also featured in a century stand in the second innings, with Sangakkara, to cap off a solid maiden Test. "I am very happy for him," said Jayasuriya. "The selectors gave him an opportunity and he used it well."

Collectively, as Arnold said, rather than through a handful of performances from top players, Sri Lanka preyed on South Africa's weaknesses - which ranged from tentativeness against a disciplined attack to an incurable mindset, stuck in the three previous defeats they have sunk to in Durban. It was this mental aspect that Jayasuriya said opened a crack for Sri Lanka and they did well not to waste it.

"We choked them really nicely," Jayasuriya said, using a word that will no doubt cause the South African squad to bristle. "We've seen with their history when it comes to crunch situations they don't do well."

Jayasuriya expects South Africa to make the home advantage count in the decider in Cape Town, which starts on Tuesday. "They won't want a flat wicket, so they will probably prepare something with pace and bounce," he said. However, the Newlands pitch is the surface which best accommodates spin, which will be welcome news for Rangana Herath and Sri Lanka's batsmen, who will likely feel a little more at home in South Africa now.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul on January 2, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    I visualize Smith thanking Sanath after the 3rd test like Dilshan thanked Kepler...! It is not a gentlemen behavior to kick someone when he is down..!

  • Charindra on January 2, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    IMO, Sanath should not rub it in. That's not our style, as we're not India. We did brilliantly to win the match, and it was an outstanding team effort! Well done to the boys. But let's not put SA down. They're a fantastic cricketing nation.

  • Akheel on January 2, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    A test win in SA-CHECKED!

  • Arun on January 2, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    @ area1985: I'm not sure you know what you are talking about, mate. Zaheer averages 30 because India plays 50% of its games on flat tracks or turning tracks. Zak bowls a few overs and cools his heels at fine leg. Malinga, Fernando average 30+ too, for the same reason. Hardly any modern subcontinental quick has an avg below 30 because they go for runs with the new ball, and only mange wickets with the old ball. Mohd Asif is an exception, but he hardly played in the subcontinent for obvious reasons. FYI, Ishant Sharma, when not injured is consistently over 140. He lost pace and form in 2009-10, but since then is back around 140-150. He hit 150 during the MCG game. You clearly haven't watched him rip Ponting apart in 2008. The fact is, if SRL's fast bowling were good, they'd win more matches overseas. They don't. Vaas was the only half-decent pace bowler SRL ever had, and if Murali was neutralized due to the pitch conditions, it was a given that SRL would struggle.

  • indy on January 2, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    I AGREE WITH SANA... SA ARE CHOKERS.. HAVE THEY EVER MADE TO A WC FINALS??? They dont perform well under presure.. Well said Sanath

  • Shahane on January 2, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    Savour the taste of what was a magical performance. Well deserved!! But let's not keep looking back, coz we might stumble on what is ahead. SA has every right to prepare a green top for SL and will come harder than ever. How we wish to see No 4 making his elegant runs!!

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 1:37 GMT

    @Louis De Klerk, funny how you are willing to secede part of the country to make Durban not a home ground. Actually it is pretty pathetic and I'm glad that not many of your countrymen share your views. Having said that, Sana is making a habit of making inappropriate comments. Like someone said, he doesn't need to copy other pundits (read has-beens) in making grandiose statements which are hurtful to the public of other countries. That should be left to forum commenters (read wanna-bes).

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    The Proteas, their collective national pride badly damaged, will bounce back and defeat the Lankans in the final Test. Everyone knows SL hasn't been playing well recently and they simply caught the Saffies by surprise in the last Test. Congrats to them. When you total only 168 runs in your first occupation of the crease, you're not likely to win. They will make the gloating Jayasuriya eat some crow, especially Steyn. Mr. 5-For man, Philander is back and that will help the Saffies' cause. What ever happened to JP Duminy?

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    Say what you want, Jayasuriya, but one thing you can't say (IMO) is that South Africa was beaten on home soil. Kingsmead has proven itself to be a neutral ground at best for South Africa, so I think we can say that Sri Lanka defeated SA on a neutral ground. Still a good accomplishment, but what we learnt from this test was first and foremost that SA does not get good support or good results in Durban, and should not play tests there (esp. against subcontinent teams) for the forseeable future.

    Its not about the pitch, crowd support (or the lack of it, in the case of Kingsmead) is vital.

  • Dummy4 on January 1, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    Dear Sanath .. ! For God's sake please keep quiet. It's our boys with Guts and determination who did it. They deserve it. And don't forget. This is the ground where Aus were all out for mere 47. Say something for our players to boost their morale. Don't humiliate SL. Boasting is not our SL style. I apologize from SA Public. And best of luck for our Boys in the Third Test.

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