Sri Lanka in South Africa 2011-12 January 8, 2012

Samaraweera proves his point

Marks out of ten for Sri Lanka following their 1-2 Test series loss away in South Africa


Thilan Samaraweera

The shining light of Sri Lanka's tour, Samaraweera became only the third batsman from the sub-continent to score two centuries in a series in South Africa, after Azhar Mahmood and Sachin Tendulkar. He batted with composure, forcing the South Africans to bowl a straighter line to him and milked the spinner, Imran Tahir. His hundred in Durban was match-winning and if he had had an able partner at the other end of his Newlands century for longer, he might have saved the match for Sri Lanka. After being dropped from the side for last year's series against Pakistan, Samaraweera proved his point in a big way.

Rangana Herath

Since Muttiah Muralitharan retired in July last year, success has been as rare to Sri Lanka as a quality spinner is for their opposition. Herath turned that around. He was the most successful Sri Lanka bowler, with ten wickets at 27.70, and used the old-fashioned values of guile and flight to out-think the batsmen. In Centurion, where conditions did not suit him at all, he was miserly. In Durban, his nine wickets were key to Sri Lanka's victory as he spun a web around the South Africa batting. And in Cape Town, he toiled for 42 overs to end with the only respectable figures in a battered bowling card. Herath also lived up to reputation as a Sanath-Jayasuriya-like character and provided late fireworks with the bat.


Dinesh Chandimal

The most promising player of the tour, Chandimal was the unsung hero of the Durban victory. He scored twin half-centuries, combining with centurions Samaraweera and Sangakkara respectively and displayed the temperament required to play at the highest level. He was also efficient behind the stumps. At Newlands, he tried to shield the under-firing tail but the magnitude of the task became too much for a young man with great potential.


Chanaka Welegedara

Leading a depleted attack in foreign conditions is no easy task but Welegedara did so admirably before losing his way in Cape Town. He was Sri Lanka's best bowler in Centurion, making timely breakthroughs, and skittled through South Africa's top-order in Durban, opening the gates for a historic win. But on a flat pitch at Newlands and with an attitude that showed he did not actually want to bowl, he was expensive and wayward and failed to take the catch that would have dismissed double-centurion Jacques Kallis for 1.


Kumar Sangakkara

Undone by three good, wicket-taking balls in his first three innings, Sangakkara made up for it with a classy century in Durban. With Chandimal at the other end, he batted South Africa out of the match with a range of delicate strokes that showed off his finesse. When he was needed to lead the line-up in Cape Town, he failed, playing a careless shot in the first innings, which sparked Sri Lanka's collapse. That he ended as Sri Lanka's second highest run-scorer serves as a measure for the struggles the team faced.


Tillakaratne Dilshan

Irresponsible with the bat at the best of times, Dilshan gave his side only one score of substance. His 78 at Newlands pushed Sri Lanka along quickly as they responded to South Africa's mammoth 580. It was the least Dilshan could do after opting to bowl first on a batsman-friendly track. In the other matches, he threw his wicket away at will, playing rash shots with no attempt to be guided by the match context. He was more perceptive in the field and crafty with his bowlers but on the whole, Dilshan talked a good game but rarely followed up on it.

Dilhara Fernando

A caricature of the fading fast bowler, Dilhara Fernando did everything expected of a quick in his twilight years. He lumbered around, needing ten overs in the field to warm up and then fired in a handful of unbelievably expert spells to restore his reputation. He felled Jacques Kallis with a bouncer in Centurion but his stand-out performance came in the second innings of the second Test, where he removed Graeme Smith and Ashwell Prince. Knee pain ruled him out of the third Test and Sri Lanka missed his experience.


Angelo Matthews

The Sri Lanka vice-captain's series went by almost unnoticed, until his half-century in the third Test. Before that, he had two scores in the 30s and was dismissed cheaply thrice, raising questions over his ability to play a leadership role in the team as he struggled in the field. His 63 at Newlands and key partnership with Samaraweera added value to an otherwise insignificant effort from Matthews. In that innings, he showed his ability to work through pressure and was dismissed just when the pair were starting to dictate proceedings. He made a slow return to bowling and managed 26 overs in the three Tests.


Mahela Jayawardene

Six innings, six starts but no flourishing finish. It's easy to forget that Jayawardene became the first Sri Lankan to score 10,000 Test runs in the course of this series because he laboured through it with few results. He didn't ever look comfortable at the crease, fidgeted around and failed to prop up the middle order. Apart from his run-out, he was dismissed five times by a genuine quick (Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Marchant de Lange) illustrating the problems he had with adjusting to the pace and bounce. The former captain has not scored a Test half-century away from home in over two years and some have even questioned whether he will continue to be a fixture in the side from now on.

Lahiru Thirimanne

Scores of 23 and 30 in one Test do not provide enough of a picture to assess the opener, who replaced Tharanga Paranavitana at the top. He showed the abilities to occupy the crease for long periods of time and to front up to a hostile bowling attack. On a flat pitch in Cape Town, Thirimanne should have made better use of his opportunity to be truly convincing.


Tharanga Paranavitana

One of Sri Lanka's casualties of the tour, Paranavitana made just 57 runs in four innings before being dropped. He displayed all the stereotypical weaknesses of a sub-continental batsman and struggled to adjust to the conditions. In particular, he was puzzled by the lengths of the South Africa bowlers and was regularly dismissed looking for a drive that was not there.

Kaushal Silva

The young wicket-keeper was the victim of a significant defeat after managing just 17 runs from his two innings in Centurion. Like many of the Sri Lanka batsmen in that match, he was undone by bowler-friendly conditions - pace, bounce and seam - and could not adjust in time to last for the second Test. Silva was competent without being exceptional behind the stumps but will likely fall third in the queue for the gloveman's job from now on.

Dhammika Prasad

His first ball of the series resulted in the wicket of Graeme Smith. Eight overs later he dismissed Hashim Amla. If only Prasad's tale could have ended there. Instead, he was bashed about for 154 runs and tasked with bowling the delivery that saw Sri Lanka lose the series. To end a nightmare, it was a no-ball. He showed the right intent but his aggression did not always match skill, perhaps a symptom of the lack of bowling after a return from injury.

Thisara Perera

Probably the most disappointing of the Sri Lanka party, Perera struggled with both bat and ball and left a soft spot at No. 8. He scored a paltry 81 runs and was one of the batsmen who failed to adapt to the conditions. He opened the bowling with little success, managing five wickets for a bloated 320 runs. He had the highest average, 64.00, and economy rate, 4.7, among Sri Lanka bowlers who played at least two Tests in the series and was undoubtedly the weak link of their line-up.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on January 9, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    Tissara goot his chance because lakmal,Pradeep,Dilhara,Eranga all got iinjured !

  • SLMaster on January 9, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    As similar to rest of the comments Samaraweera should have got 9. I didn't agree with Lahiru's replacement for Paranavitana. It should have been Mahela. Para and Lahitu is young and future; they should have given more chances. Sure he failed ... but failure in one or two game is part of it.

  • 9ST9 on January 9, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    Very true that Thissara Perera is not a test player, he is a T20/ODI player who can slog it and bowl a tidy line to keep the runs down in ODI's, not at all test material, Dilshan too is a player who is more apt to the shorter formats- but however it is important to have such a batter in the Tests since he can take the initiative away if he fires. It seems so long ago that he scored a patient 190 in the lords test. Mahela has always been patchy in SA and i don't think thats a reason to be ashamed of his style clearly suits sub continent tracks - people don't call Saffer bowlers 'green track bullies' when they get tonked around the park in the subcontinent do they?

  • dummy4fb on January 9, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    The former captain(MAHELA) has not scored a Test half-century away from home in over two years and some have even questioned whether he will continue to be a fixture in the side from now on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  • MENDIS_Forever on January 9, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    If I were you,I would not have given Dilshan a 5.5.

  • Darkmanx12155 on January 9, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    Thisara/ Dilshan/ Prasad should go out n we need to find good , solid replacements for them. give a chance to a 20 year old and stick with him for six months without droping him

  • johnathonjosephs on January 9, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    no idea why Thissara Perera was in the squad. He is only for limited overs game since he can hit the ball hard and bowl decent for ODIs. Kulasekera or Thushara should have been in his place, but alas, Sri Lankan politics deny that.

  • joseyesu on January 9, 2012, 4:25 GMT

    Sorry for thilan it is all for a loosing cause and it will soon be forgotten.

  • dummy4fb on January 8, 2012, 22:36 GMT

    The failure of most of the SL batters was due to their being over cautious and defensive. They allowed the SA pace bowlers to get on top with defensive play. Chandimal adopted the right attitude and batted well for his young age. Although Dilshan captained well in Capetown his batting was irresponsible as always. He should have a more controlled aggressive approach. He is definitely not a test opener. Mahela was surprisingly too negative in his approach to batting and allowed the bowlers to get on top. Personally I feel that he is not far from getting back into form and is still the most intelligent captain/player that we have. SL Cricket should appoint him captain for the England Tests assuming that he is willing to take-over the captaincy. In the 20/20 and 50 overs Dilshan should open with Mahela starting with the 5 x 50 over matches in SA. Upul Tharanga to follow at No 3.

  • seantells on January 8, 2012, 20:20 GMT

    how in the world Dilshan got 5.5?

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