Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, SSC, 2nd day July 25, 2014

South Africa stymied by spinners

103

South Africa 98 for 3 (Amla 46*) trail Sri Lanka 421 (Jayawardene 165, Dickwella 72, Mathews 63) by 323 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 02:44
Fernando: Dickwella handled mental challenges well

Flattest track in the world, eh? Ask the South Africa batsmen. They started to bat at the SSC midway through the second session of the second day, and during the 52 overs till stumps the run-rate never crossed two. Sri Lanka's trio of spinners teased and probed, Suranga Lakmal extracted some reverse swing, and the bad balls were virtually non-existent.

Rangana Herath needed five balls to get his first wicket. Offspinner Dilruwan Perera needed only three. If South Africa's batsmen did not already know they were in for a thorough interrogation of their technique against spin, the first hour of their innings made it absolutely clear.

Like Sri Lanka on Thursday, South Africa lost lost two wickets early. Sri Lanka had responded by caning the spinners to the tune of 4.86 an over during a 99-run stand between Mahela Jayawardene and Kaushal Silva. There was no similar response from South Africa after their lost their openers early - Alviro Petersen to a soft caught-and-bowler and Dean Elgar bat-pad. Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla showed immense concentration and patience as they ground out 58 runs in nearly 30 overs.

There wasn't massive turn yet from the track, but Sri Lanka could turn to a variety of spinners who posed different challenges. Left-arm spinner Herath got the new ball and tested out the rough against the left-hand batsmen. Perera bowled conventional offspin with a pleasingly conventional action and should have had Amla caught-behind in the 26th over, only for the debutant keeper Niroshan Dickwella to miss a tough chance. Ajantha Mendis, playing only his third Test in more than three years, didn't have the same accuracy as the other two but his variations were enough to keep the batsmen guessing. Sri Lanka could even call on the part-time legspin of Kithuruwan Vithanage - he got some turn and several leading edges.

It was finally Lakmal who ended the du Plessis-Amla stand, though, when Dickwella took a superb one-handed catch diving to his left to send back du Plessis for 36.

South Africa still have their two best batsmen in the middle, but after 52 overs of bloody-minded resistance, they are still only 98 for 3. At the same stage, Sri Lanka were 205 for 3. What that punishing pace of scoring from Sri Lanka has done is allow them plenty of time to grill South Africa.

Sri Lanka maintained a similarly cavalier rate of scoring in the morning. Dickwella, who was in England earlier this week with the A side and not even in the Test squad, struck an enterprising debut half-century that drove Sri Lanka past 400. He is a schoolboy star like the man with whom he put on a century stand - Mahela Jayawardene - to ensure the first day's advantage was not squandered.

Jayawardene began the day unbeaten on 140 at his favourite ground, and Dickwella was in his first Test innings facing the pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, but it was the youngster who dominated the opening hour.

There were plenty of signs of his confidence on the big stage. In the 97th over, he played a deliberate upper cut over slips off Morne Morkel on seeing that third man was square. The next delivery was tucked to the fine-leg boundary. As Dickwella ambled down the track keeping his eye on the ball, he bumped into Morkel, who responded with a shove. Dickwella doesn't even reach shoulder high for the towering Morkel, but his concentration didn't waver even after that encounter.

He skipped down the track to launch Vernon Philander over mid-on, and a delivery after Imran Tahir got the ball to rip from the rough, Dickwella countered with the reverse-sweep.

At the other end, Jayawardene was continuing with his silken batting - the blade barely passed the vertical as he coaxed a full ball from Steyn to the long-on boundary. Fifty-six runs came in the first hour, and South African spirits were beginning to sag.

As has been the case so often, South Africa got a lift with an outstanding bit of fielding. Petersen fired in a direct hit from fine leg to catch Jayawardene short on 165. A stylish innings ended with Jayawardene on his knees and desperately scrambling to complete the second.

That wicket seemed to affect Dickwella; he went loose outside off, repeatedly chasing wide deliveries. He survived till lunch, though, but after the break South Africa mopped up the tail quickly to end Sri Lanka's innings at 421. Tahir ended a 315-ball wait for a Test wicket by getting Perera to clip a ball to wide mid-on, Dickwella was run-out by Quinton de Kock while attempting a leg-bye and Philander soon had reward for his consistent bowling.

That only set the stage for a harrowing examination against spin. Three more days of that stand between South Africa and the No. 1 ranking.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 26, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    South Africa should win

  • on July 26, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    @slsup, your Sri Lanka has only won 7 test matches outside subcontinent excluding Zimbabwe. we Pakistan has won 39 and India 30.

  • on July 26, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    @Slsup, mate get the facts right. after England win , Sri Lanka, with this win, have now won seven Test matches outside the subcontinent, excluding Tests in Zimbabwe.

  • Amol_Gh on July 26, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    **IN** Australia, where Warne played most of his matches as a home-ground, he averages 26.39, in spite of it not being a spin-friendly place, but Murali averages 75.41 there and averages 19.56 on his home-made spinner-friendly customized pitches. So all those broader stats which show how Warne only takes 4.88 wickets/match and Murali takes 5+, are IRRELEVANT and don't hold water are myopic stats at best. Comparing the stat 'Wickets/match' for players originating from the same region eg. Warne and Stuart McGill is reasonable, but comparing Murali and Warne based on that stat is like comparing apples and oranges. I vote for Warne.

  • Amol_Gh on July 26, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    Murali failed against Australia...the team that mattered the most. What makes Warne superior to Murali is that Warne took a lot of wickets on his home-grounds which NEVER supported spin-bowling. Therein lies the greatness of Warne.

  • Rizwanodayar on July 26, 2014, 2:19 GMT

    I am sensing in the air one of those typical Southafrican collapse against spin. All Srilankan players will rally in to make Mhala's beautiful century in to a memorable one.

  • jbgardener on July 26, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    I am really enjoying Firdoose Moonda's pitch side reports - her ego never gets in the way which is not always the case with sports journalists. Thank you.

  • SLSup on July 26, 2014, 1:50 GMT

    Mervo: What's wrong with opening bowling in a Test with a bowler? Spin or otherwise. Didn't they succeed in getting 2 quick wickets? Effectiveness is what counts, not some parochial set of preferences by folks with mind-blocks.

    Warne better than Murali? Brian Lara once said he'll face Warne any day but not Murali! And NO ONE used his feet more beautifully against Murali than Lara. So, how is Warne better than Murali. Warne doesn't even cut the singular factor that separates most effective, long term strike bowlers in history - averaging 5 wickets PER TEST. Mural took 5+ in the 36 Tests he played overseas and 6+ wickets a Test in his 97 home games. Only Sydney Barnes is close to him in this with 7 wickets per Test but Barnes played in AUS/ENG/SA in conditions that can be considered HOME to him. Murali also played AGAINST BETTER OPPOSTION compared to Warne. Murali has 800 in 133 Test to Warnes 708 in 145. But... but... but... Mural CANNOT be the "best". : ) That's OK I guess.

  • KANCHANA623 on July 26, 2014, 1:50 GMT

    Srilanka may not be the no 1 test team at the moment but the young players got immense talent to make them the no 1 team in the near future.

  • SLSup on July 26, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    rk_ks: You said Mahela's 624 partnership w/Sanga in SCC came on a ROAD. Can you then explain how SL beat SA by innings and 153 runs in that Test inside 5 days? Ohh... didn't think about that did you?

    Thank you for not calling SL minnows as some IND fan did! It was said SL can't win overseas! Interesting when you consider SL has won 7 overseas Test Series in 32 years of playing Tests while IND has won only 12 overseas Test Series in 82 years they've played Tests!

    Peter Bowran: Bradman also avg 97 in First Class AND Test cricket combined, which is freakishly impressive. While it is true the next down the line avg 60's let's not forget Sangakkara has now averaged in the mid 70's in the last 80+ Tests he played! NO ONE in the history of cricket has ever done THAT! And that playing most of his Tests in SL which produce the 6th most friendly battings tracks in the world (AUS/IND/ENG top the list w/1103, 1081 & 1051 runs PER TEST respectively over the past 20 years).

  • on July 26, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    South Africa should win

  • on July 26, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    @slsup, your Sri Lanka has only won 7 test matches outside subcontinent excluding Zimbabwe. we Pakistan has won 39 and India 30.

  • on July 26, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    @Slsup, mate get the facts right. after England win , Sri Lanka, with this win, have now won seven Test matches outside the subcontinent, excluding Tests in Zimbabwe.

  • Amol_Gh on July 26, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    **IN** Australia, where Warne played most of his matches as a home-ground, he averages 26.39, in spite of it not being a spin-friendly place, but Murali averages 75.41 there and averages 19.56 on his home-made spinner-friendly customized pitches. So all those broader stats which show how Warne only takes 4.88 wickets/match and Murali takes 5+, are IRRELEVANT and don't hold water are myopic stats at best. Comparing the stat 'Wickets/match' for players originating from the same region eg. Warne and Stuart McGill is reasonable, but comparing Murali and Warne based on that stat is like comparing apples and oranges. I vote for Warne.

  • Amol_Gh on July 26, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    Murali failed against Australia...the team that mattered the most. What makes Warne superior to Murali is that Warne took a lot of wickets on his home-grounds which NEVER supported spin-bowling. Therein lies the greatness of Warne.

  • Rizwanodayar on July 26, 2014, 2:19 GMT

    I am sensing in the air one of those typical Southafrican collapse against spin. All Srilankan players will rally in to make Mhala's beautiful century in to a memorable one.

  • jbgardener on July 26, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    I am really enjoying Firdoose Moonda's pitch side reports - her ego never gets in the way which is not always the case with sports journalists. Thank you.

  • SLSup on July 26, 2014, 1:50 GMT

    Mervo: What's wrong with opening bowling in a Test with a bowler? Spin or otherwise. Didn't they succeed in getting 2 quick wickets? Effectiveness is what counts, not some parochial set of preferences by folks with mind-blocks.

    Warne better than Murali? Brian Lara once said he'll face Warne any day but not Murali! And NO ONE used his feet more beautifully against Murali than Lara. So, how is Warne better than Murali. Warne doesn't even cut the singular factor that separates most effective, long term strike bowlers in history - averaging 5 wickets PER TEST. Mural took 5+ in the 36 Tests he played overseas and 6+ wickets a Test in his 97 home games. Only Sydney Barnes is close to him in this with 7 wickets per Test but Barnes played in AUS/ENG/SA in conditions that can be considered HOME to him. Murali also played AGAINST BETTER OPPOSTION compared to Warne. Murali has 800 in 133 Test to Warnes 708 in 145. But... but... but... Mural CANNOT be the "best". : ) That's OK I guess.

  • KANCHANA623 on July 26, 2014, 1:50 GMT

    Srilanka may not be the no 1 test team at the moment but the young players got immense talent to make them the no 1 team in the near future.

  • SLSup on July 26, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    rk_ks: You said Mahela's 624 partnership w/Sanga in SCC came on a ROAD. Can you then explain how SL beat SA by innings and 153 runs in that Test inside 5 days? Ohh... didn't think about that did you?

    Thank you for not calling SL minnows as some IND fan did! It was said SL can't win overseas! Interesting when you consider SL has won 7 overseas Test Series in 32 years of playing Tests while IND has won only 12 overseas Test Series in 82 years they've played Tests!

    Peter Bowran: Bradman also avg 97 in First Class AND Test cricket combined, which is freakishly impressive. While it is true the next down the line avg 60's let's not forget Sangakkara has now averaged in the mid 70's in the last 80+ Tests he played! NO ONE in the history of cricket has ever done THAT! And that playing most of his Tests in SL which produce the 6th most friendly battings tracks in the world (AUS/IND/ENG top the list w/1103, 1081 & 1051 runs PER TEST respectively over the past 20 years).

  • Greatest_Game on July 26, 2014, 1:00 GMT

    I have to laugh at these predictions that Amla and de Villiers are going to post huge scores, or that SA will be bowled out under 150, or whatever. I am a South African, and a lifelong cricket fan. I'll be watching the cricket from midnight till 8:30 in the morning. My family think I'm crazy for not wanting to miss a single minute of any match. Maybe I am crazy. But, I am not crazy enough to take any of these predictions seriously.

    Nothing is definite. We have no idea what will happen on day 3, 4 or 5. We have no way of predicting anything in this most unpredictable of games. AB could knock up 200, or not last an over. What is real, though, is that all these predictions a& sledging do nothing for the enjoyment of the game.

    The past is history. The future is unknowable. Only in the present, in the moment, can we savor the beauty & the mysteries of the game. Enjoy the game for what it is, not what you think it will be, for whatever you think will happen, won't happen! That's cricket!

  • on July 26, 2014, 0:39 GMT

    Saw a quote by Faf du Plessis on Cricinfo stating that catches down the leg side aren't right - "They must change that rule and give you another chance."

    Too bad Mr. Francois didn't come up with that suggestion when they got Sanga out in the 2nd and 3rd ODIs through catches down the leg.

  • on July 26, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    I do wish people would stop the chest beating: Mahela is better than Mahela, Mahela is better than Amla. Their averages are very close, the major difference is Mahela has played 246 innings and Amla 136. Both are superb batsmen. Enjoy their cricket, leave it at that, and if you want to look at statistics, the only one with any significance is Bradman's. At just under 100, with the next best at 61, there is no comparison. Put it this way - his average is almost the equivalent of adding Steve Waugh AND Michael Clarke, or De Villiers AND Amla, Richards AND Lara. When you get below him, comparing anyone a run or two apart is statistically meaningless - opposition, batting firts and last, good/bad pitches all make that sort of difference. Someone with the same difference to either Mahela or Amla would have an average of about 10.

  • Tinybaba on July 25, 2014, 23:20 GMT

    @vkias - mate you are day dreaming. It is irrevalant whetrer Amla is better or Mahela is the best but what matters is how do they perform for any given day. Wait and see how ABD score a double hunders and Amla and QDK score a century each. If SA manages to draw this test they deserve to be world number one but by the end of day 04 they will lose without any doubt. SL will not enforce follow ion even if SA are dismissed below 222 and they will bat second time and score fast and then let SA take the taste of catting last in this mine field. Rest will be history then. You will learn what is test cricket then.

  • GermanPlayer on July 25, 2014, 22:30 GMT

    Srilanka did a great job scoring at a very healthy run-rate.

    SA can clearly see that if they try to score ast against these spinners, they will perish.

    And then considering the fact that they are 1-0 up, and the fact that they are quite good at batting for long periods of time, they will back themselves to bat once and bat Srilanka out of the game. If they do that, which is a long shot, then Srilanka would have a tough job batting on the second last evening or last day.

  • Mervo on July 25, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    I fully acknowledge the value and importance of spinners in Test cricket. I think Warne was the greatest bowler ever and Murali a close second. However, to distort the nature and balance of cricket in such a way as to make pace bowlers irrelevant with wickets manufactured like these, open new ball bowling with spinners, just seems a huge shame. They all have their part, not just spinners and grinding batsmen.

  • rk_ks on July 25, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    @DINITH1985: While SL is definitely not a minnow, it's not world class either. The 624 world record has come on a highway, no special achievement in that. From 2012 except England how many series SL has won outside home. And the Eng series, SL luckily escaped losing. One or two extra balls Eng would have won. Even you know that. They might become world class in future. Might be possible. Accept the fact that SL is not world class currently and stop boasting on this medium level team. Australia, SA are superior teams.

  • JustIPL on July 25, 2014, 19:45 GMT

    And Dickwella is household name now and came good in the wake of a stiff challenge. Delivering at the right time taking lead from the legendary Jayawerdene. Faced a ferocious spell of bowling from morkel. Made a very successful DRS use so the bloc looks already grown up. It is the positive team environment of being like brothers as they said during t20 worldcup when they handed captaincy to slinga and now, both times they got positive results. Against rampaging steyn/morkel and SL quality spinners no flat is flat track.

  • on July 25, 2014, 19:37 GMT

    This srilankans fans speak like srilanka is.no 1 test playing nation. Fact is it plays well only on batting wicket that.too for draw

  • SriLankanYoungBlood on July 25, 2014, 18:21 GMT

    It's so unfortunate Mahela run out before get 200. Because he gets 100, 1 out of 10 matches. So he should get maximum advantage of these rare occasions. Dikwella did fair justice for his selection but it's too early to express a complete forecast about him. Finally wish SL to win this match at least even for pride

  • vkumar_086 on July 25, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    @rk_ks…completely agree with you…Amla is better player than Mahela, having average more than 50 in both Tests and ODI and played well in every nook and corner of the world....ABD will score double hundred tomorrow and Quinton kock, Duminy, Amla centuries each....test will end in draw...SL lose the series 1-0 in home

  • on July 25, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    On a so called 'flat track' South African batsman cannot score over 2 Runs per over. Expect Sri Lankan Attack to pick up regular wickets tomorrow and keep South Africa to 250

  • SLMaster on July 25, 2014, 17:42 GMT

    Let's give the credit to Mahela. It is not flat pitch as it used to be....and let's be fair SA. There is long way to go.....

  • on July 25, 2014, 17:22 GMT

    SL was 100/3 as well, so no panic at this point for SA. We still have some top batsmen in and to come, so hopefully a few of them have a good knock. If they do we should be OK. 3 spinners means more overs, so even with a slow run rate its possible to score a decent total.

  • rk_ks on July 25, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    @DINITH1985 : SL were 16/2 when Mahela came to bat. If Mahela can score, definetely Amla or Devillers will score. That's the difference. And Amla is way more better than Mahela at any given day.

  • slazenger on July 25, 2014, 15:21 GMT

    For SL the best thing would be keep on trying new players untill they find the good ones. Give ample time but If they are not performing try the new ones. The key is forget about defeat or the rankings. who cares. Give chance to the new players.

  • SILVERSANGA on July 25, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    It's pretty ironic to see some fans predicting about Amla making a double ton and AB/ Kock making tons. SA are 98/3 in 52 overs. Let's be real here. It's quite an achievement if they cross 250 mark with such defensive approach. All SL needs is few early wickets tomorrow morning.

  • SLMaster on July 25, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    I wonder 2013 absence of test cricket did something good for SL. Since then SL won few and all matches had a promising display. One could say SL is on right track and improving well. Few players are coming into play and doing well. Bowling had definitely gotten better. Impact of Vaas is apparent, I think.

  • on July 25, 2014, 14:29 GMT

    Srilanka should quit playing test cricket

  • Yousufahmed1 on July 25, 2014, 14:27 GMT

    If not for this SL highway Mahela would have scored less than 20 runs(like he does on helpful wickets). LOL. Still expecting ABD and Amla to tore apart this bowling(I am sorry but I can not call it attack). Hope to see a 200 from ABD and couple of 100s from QDK and Amla. Then SA can take 10 cheap SL wickets to get a big W(win) and W(whitewash) SL.

  • duncanmoo on July 25, 2014, 14:20 GMT

    This is good, SA's ability to play proper spinners really tested!

    And the SA selectors continue with the idea that a "settled" and consistent side is the best? Horses for courses; they should have picked an additional spinner, change things up. We have some promising spin options but SA will continue to field 3 seamers EVEN in spin friendly conditions; it was only Steyn's brilliance that gave us the last match (and a bit of reverse swing).

  • Amol_Gh on July 25, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    Test cricket is always great...except ...when it's played in UAE or SRL. Anyway, we, cricket-fans, are always used to watch SRL win in their own backyard. So SRL winning this match won't matter much either. Because a Sri-Lanka win at home is always an irrelevant result and does not affect the rankings because it's more of a forcefully contrived result in favor of SRL.

  • on July 25, 2014, 14:12 GMT

    wow srilanka has got some talent in the pipeline ! dont get perplexed by the size of this island, this nation have produced some wonderful cricketing talent.

  • on July 25, 2014, 14:04 GMT

    sanga n mahela are world class. and Mathews becoming a top player. but Sri Lankan supporters talking as if they are world test champions. they are never in top 3 in the past and also in near future.

  • on July 25, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    we can't judge a player in single game. let's see how dickwella performs in upcoming series against pak.

  • on July 25, 2014, 13:59 GMT

    today only we can't judge the result. let's see tom. SL did well.

  • SILVERSANGA on July 25, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    @Monu Monu - You are completely wrong! SL have never been among the top 3 ranked teams in tests? Pls check the previous ICC rankings by the end of every month.. SL were #2 back in 2009/10 and we missed the 1# spot by just! SL also ranked 3# several times. Back in 2000/01 we won 9 tests in row and we were at number 3. You cannot call SL a test minnow. A minnow would never win a test series in England(regardless how weak Eng are) and also a minnow would never own test world records such as 624 partnership against mighty Saffas. The last time SL lost a test series was against Australia back in 2012. Ever since then SL haven't lost a single series. Hopefully they won't lose this one either.

  • Greatest_Game on July 25, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    @ Cricketfan11111 commented "Like the name Dickwella, not a bad debut either."

    It was a great debut, I thought. He played a really enjoyable innings. Dickwella dismissed by de Kock had a nice touch of irony!

  • LAKINGSFAN on July 25, 2014, 13:47 GMT

    Duminy, AB and Amla are the best players of spin from SA. It will be a draw.

  • SLMaster on July 25, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    Another bastmen to watch apart from Dickwella is Madushanka Gunathilaka - the opening batsman SL A team. Doing well for a while too.

  • SLMaster on July 25, 2014, 13:40 GMT

    Good opening match for Dickwella. He has been around the block doing well for some time. Well done.

  • Greatest_Game on July 25, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    @ charithjaya makes an important point many have forgotten, when he writes "Guys its too early to make any conclusion on this pitch. I feel that there's a fair chance to see a decision on this match, either SA or SL."

    There are still three more days of play left. This is test cricket - anything can happen.

    At the end of day 1 at Galle, some contributors thought that SA had no chance. At the end of day 2 they were highly critical of SA's run rate. Then SL batted & scored at the same run rate. Then SA scored at a much higher run rate…….

    SL could clean SA up in the first session tomorrow, or Amla and AB could put on another 500. Hold the criticism, enjoy the twists and turn of the game. That is what makes test cricket great. Every day, every session, can change in a minute.

    We are supposed to enjoy this ……….

  • Tje5 on July 25, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    @Mervo, if your strength is spinners and knowing oppositions are struggle against spinners, then why can't you open with spinner. there are no rules to open with fast bowlers. and after seeing the way SA players play spin I like to see SL open with spinners both end in SA's 2nd inning. And I strongly believe that this match not going to be a draw.

  • Lord.emsworth on July 25, 2014, 13:30 GMT

    Well, well...Young Dickwela showed up all the armchair pundits alright. The SL selectors got it right this time around. Perhaps they saw something beyond his stats... For those pointing out that fast bowlers are side-lined by this wicket, I would say that SL as the home team have the right to prepare a wicket that suits them. Sub-Continent teams face the might of fast bowlers when they tour. Similarly, visiting teams must expect to combat spin on the Sub-Continent.

  • ladycricfan on July 25, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    Like the name Dickwella, not a bad debut either. So many Pereras ,Silvas and Mendises, it takes some effort to know who is who. Why Tissara Perera is not playing? He is a very good all rounder.

    When Mahela was batting, it looked like another high scoring draw on a flat pitch. But Srilankan bowlers seems to find the pitch to their liking. Well done.

  • Greatest_Game on July 25, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    @ Damian123 suggests "We'll have to wait and see whether it's a road or a lawn, which sub-continent teams get touring SA!"

    Road, lawn, beach, minefield - it does not matter. No sub-continent team has ever won a series in SA. On the other hand, SA has won a series in every test playing sub-continent country. That is the simple truth!

  • on July 25, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    3 spinners as I suggested, way to go SLC!

  • JohannK on July 25, 2014, 13:14 GMT

    I remember some years ago SA played India in a three test series. SA were up 1-0 going into the last test. India gambled. They would rather lose 2-0 if they had a chance for 1-1 than allow 1-0 as the most likely outcome. The answer: and underprepared pitch for which they were later fined by the ICC. The result: India's spinners win the game for them on an awful cricket pitch.

    Looks like SL might have done something similar and hoped to win the toss. So far so good for them. At this stage they must be favourites because their spinners are miles better than SA's. But I would not count SA out yet. Amla scored 300 at the Oval 2 yrs ago and AB can do the same. It is tough, but they can do it. However, if they don't score big, SA are in trouble.

  • Venkat_Gowrishankar on July 25, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    @ TommytuckerSaffa : I dont understand, why should one be forced into thinking that only a fast bowler should open the innings, why should one not think out of the box. Come ouf of that mentality of playing in SA, this is SL and if you have mediocre spinners like tahir who cant exploit the conditions, then it is your problem. Actually ,Fast bowling is in good health, spinners are a shortage. Tell me apart from Swann, where is the next promising orhtodox spinner, gone , extinct!. If one is a real cricket purist, he would appreciate these intrricacies which this game alone brings out.

  • Snambidi on July 25, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    The second Test SLvsSA is progressing well with slight advantage for SL in their soil.

    They have to win being behind SA who won First with a convincing Margin. Winning Toss they rightly Elected to bat.& scored 400+.their debutantDickwella& & veteran Jayawardene did a fine job & both were out in identical manner of Run outs. in reply SA is struggling on 98/3. But Amla& DeVilliers at the crease,can always do wonders.So SL is not fully in control now.Just 2 days over By third daybevening one could getva fairly future picture of the fate of this Test. However,my view is that since SL has put up a 400+ score the possibility is for a draw as it is. A kind of Herculian Task as good as passing through the Horns of a Dillemma . But it is Cricket. anything can happen.Let us wait & see. In cricket this is the most safe view.

  • charithjaya on July 25, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    "Flattest track in the world, eh? Ask the South Africa batsmen." I think this answers for all the criticisms made on SSC pitch. Some keeps complaining that the wicket gives nothing for fast bowlers. My question is why a home team should prepare a fast wicket when they are having good spinners? People come up with all the excuses may be because most don't have quality spinners. Guys its too early to make any concussion on this pitch. I feel that there's a fair chance to see a decision on this match, either SA or SL.

  • on July 25, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Peterson again falling early..... I could have predicted that!!

  • JohannK on July 25, 2014, 13:08 GMT

    Let Faf bat at no 2. He is effectively doing that in any case. Bring in Stiaan v Zyl at no 4 (Amla at 3, where he has made most of his test runs), Dane Piedt can slot in after Philander, followed by Steyn and Morkel. If Tahir gets a five-for in the 2nd knock, he might save his place (and I do hope he gets it for the sake of a win or draw), but he has had enough chances now. His loos bowling (along with Petersen's drop at slip) gave all the momentum back to SL (in contrast to being 20 odd for three). The pressure that puts on the SA batsmen is an unnecessary burden and counts against him along with not taking wickets. Away with the passengers!

  • Greatest_Game on July 25, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    @ katch47 bemoans the "Chris Martin stuff from the (SL) lower order batsmen."

    I guess it is better than the Chris Martin stuff from the SA openers? We have learned not to expect much from Alviro, but what will it take for the SA selectors to get the message? He is not getting any better!

    He did make a brilliant direct hit to run out Mahela, but he is not supposed to be in the team as a specialist fielder. At least Chris Martin could bowl well!

  • on July 25, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    Thanks to DRS Dickwella scored half century on his debut unfortunately he got run out.He looks promising .It is clear if the players use DRS properly they could benefit.

  • Greatest_Game on July 25, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    What a great debut by Dickwella. Hopefully he can maintain this form and make a long and positive contribution to Sri Lankan cricket.

    His dismissal was very ironic. A 21 year old keeper/batsman playing superbly, run out by a 21 year old keeper/batsman with a superb direct hit

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 25, 2014, 12:50 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa / Mervo: has it ever occurred to you that spin is just as important in tests as fast/seam bowling? If South Africa insist on going to the sub continent / grounds where it is common knowledge that you need at least two good spinners in your team, with one/no spinner (part-timers like Duminy hardly count) then it's little wonder they'll struggle. Good batsmen these days need to be able to play against all types of bowling in virtually any conditions; otherwise, it's up to the selectors/management to choose players for a series or even per game on a horses-for-courses basis.

  • on July 25, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    What matters is if SL at least ties the test series. The T20 world champions with such a great team and talent should have won the ODI series. Please Sanath Jayasooriya, get out of cricket. Bring in Tisara Perera. Ee need the best we have trained before the next world cup.

  • SurlyCynic on July 25, 2014, 12:44 GMT

    As an SA fan I don't like giving up too early, given some of the backs-to-the-wall performances our boys have produced, but it'll be tough to survive this now. The pitch is already breaking up on day 2 and we are 300+ runs behind. SL are massive favourites for the win.

    Still, a drawn series wouldn't be bad. Hope we can hang on, but credit to SL for the way they have batted and bowled. And this must be the last test Tahir ever plays.

  • Greatest_Game on July 25, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    @ Blade-Runner complains "South African batsmen are trying to put us to sleep. What a POSITIVE approach as usual, of course. 36 runs in 26 overs."

    You posted a similar comment about SA's first innings at Galle, writing "One would wonder if SA are playing for a draw here by looking at their run rate though. 400 runs / 145 overs."

    But, when SL batted at the same run rate in their first innings, we heard no complaints from you. And, when SA posted a quick 200 in their second innings, you did not commend that! It is clear that SA were not playing for a draw - not with a very POSITIVE sporting declaration and a thumping win. No draw at all, just a very POSITIVE win!!

    SA are not playing this test to entertain you. They are, as always, playing to win - even if that means boring you to death. That is what winners do - they play to win, however hard it is, however long it takes, however boring some may find it.

    If it gets too boring, watching replays of the ODI series may entertain you?

  • CricketChat on July 25, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    Very good to see Dickwella play his part in his very 1st innings and involved in a very crucial partnership with Mahela to take SL to a good total. Exactly, the kind of performance expected from dropped Chandimal.

  • on July 25, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    as a Pakistani fan, I can tell something Sri Lankan fans showing same sub continent attitude. just a 6 month's of good show and too much self praise. lost to south Africa in ODI and can maximum draw series in tests. Sri Lanka is still minnows in test cricket. they have never been in top 3 ranked test team. so better not say more

  • BellCurve on July 25, 2014, 12:36 GMT

    @ TommytuckerSaffa - if all matches are decided by the fliip of a coin, then over time, all teams will be very close in the ranking, spending an equal period at No10 through to No1. However, if only SL matches are decided by the flip of a coin, and SL is lightly below par, then, yes, SL will gravitate towards the No6 position in the rankings.

  • Speng on July 25, 2014, 12:23 GMT

    Amla at 4? What is going on? Has he got soft since becoming captain?

    A turning pitch like this is the reason why SA need more and better spinners than Tahir and a couple part timers. You *are* going to get pitches that turn from day 1 and you've got to have a couple good spinners who can rip it Amla and ABD are going to have to put on a huge partnership if SA aren't to fall behind by 100+

  • on July 25, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    Pathetic pitch, this match will be draw. Srilanka approach to test is.conservative that's y they are low in ranking in test cricket

  • Amol_Gh on July 25, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    A pitch is officially a 'road/highway' if it offers ZERO support for the fast bowlers. It doesn't matter what it gives to the spinners. So...SSC is a road.

  • on July 25, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    SA. 88/3 in 49 overs either our batting good or bowling good or both. people who shouting at mahela and our team shut up because we are lions and and we are the best.

  • Mervo on July 25, 2014, 11:09 GMT

    SL opened the bowling with a spinner? What kind of wicket and game is this. Such wickets give no chance for team to develop fast bowler and restrict their capacity.

  • KingOwl on July 25, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    I must confess that I was critical of selectors (for the first time) when they picked Dickwella. But, the selectors were right, it is apparent.

  • katch47 on July 25, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    SA is doing just fine, they are two wickets down so they do the rebuilding work so RR is not a problem. I think SL should have posted 500 here, the lower order crisis is becoming a serious problem since the ENG tour. Chris Martin stuff from the lower order batsmen

  • CrICkeeet on July 25, 2014, 10:47 GMT

    Its a risky tactic from SA. If they succeed with their patient batting u'v 2 praise their try, but if they fail to hang on 150+ overs nd allout in a cheap total under 300, then its gonna hurt them a lot nd might cost this series..... but anyway, SA has the ability 2 hang on the showed a lot of tests b4...

  • randikaayya on July 25, 2014, 10:28 GMT

    Francis Mel: SLC change their attitude and do what? Speed up the South African scoring rate? I wonder if you can elaborate on how exactly you found this a boring contest, SL batted at. Early 4 an over for the most part. There is a higher chance of a result here than your native Indian conditions, so it's a bit odd for you to say this is dull my friend

  • Basil777 on July 25, 2014, 10:27 GMT

    I think SA can bat for a draw in my opinion it does not matter how slow they bat ; SL have everything to lose if they don't get 20 wickets; which is highly unlikely ; they could not get 20 wickets in the previous test.

  • Sinhabahu on July 25, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    At the time of writing this comment, SA is 46/2 off 31 overs. 31 OVERS. Where are all the pundits who said that the SSC pitch was the Sri Lankan national highway?

  • St.John on July 25, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    SL 400 for 6 all-out 421. These Days all the opposition have to do is to take 5 Sri Lanka wickets...and the rest will crumble with a whimper. A tail is a tail but Sri Lanka's tail is virtually a short docked off stump.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on July 25, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    It's going to be a long test for SA. At this rate they'll equal SL's score half way through the evening session on day 5.

  • Lassie.Perera on July 25, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    SSC pitch is a Batting paradise????? at this stage, SA 32/2 in 25 overs.

  • Blade-Runner on July 25, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    South African batsmen are trying to put us to sleep. What a POSITIVE approach as usual, of course. 36 runs in 26 overs.

  • on July 25, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    Posted by lionslanka Why are your team then not the top ranked team. Maybe not consistant enough or others are playing better everyware??

  • on July 25, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    Well played Niroshan Dickwella on his debut.

  • cric1965 on July 25, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    No need to blame about.pitch. If you are a better team you should be able to win irrespective of toss and pitch.

  • cric1965 on July 25, 2014, 9:34 GMT

    How about south African coaches actively involved in game. Alan Donald come to the ground and constantly keep in touch with players,feed back strategies and tell bowlers how to bowl etc. Where is Sri Lankan coaches, Chaminda vass?

  • on July 25, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    only taking about pitch problem better teams never depend on pitches. I also think SA team mates aren't doing that their mad fans do so

  • on July 25, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    This match again proves why most of feel that Test match is at its dullest when SL are at play. It is no surprise that not many have bothered to show up at the stadium and why other countries dont want to play more than 2 Test matches in a Series. I hope SLC change their thinking and attitude towards Test cricket.

  • Maqsood_aalam on July 25, 2014, 8:59 GMT

    TommytuckerSaffa

    This is why we are Colombo track bully. We never allowed any team in Colombo as well as in any part of Sri Lanka & of course yours are no exception. We won in England, in UAE, in WI, in NZL,in AUS, in BD & our favorite cup of tea, India. That is why we are true champion.

  • on July 25, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    some are saying start bowling with spinners is bad for test spinners are also bowlers. good balance team have both fast bowlers and spinners. they are saying that because they don't have good spinners. don't blame on pitch turn as to the pitch that's what better teams do

  • VinodGupte on July 25, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    In related news, SSC track will be added to the first-year coursework for Highway Engineering at Yale.

  • vkumar_086 on July 25, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Test will be either draw or SA will win...it is very easy to bat on this super highway...SA has very good batsmen and did not depend on one or two batsmen to bail them out....

  • wanatawu on July 25, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    Peterson, LOL. Ya man what can we say??

  • sirviv on July 25, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    so de Kock ran out Dickwella... how fitting

  • Jeewaka9999 on July 25, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    As everyday our last 5 wickets went for just 36 runs today ... We hv one of the worst tail enders in the world. Other country at least they can put on 100 runs or save the match...what has Marvans been doing as batting coach for last 3 yrs? It is better to hv a good batting coach now? Bcoz it is enough for him also

  • cric1965 on July 25, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    What happen to Sri Lanka vice captain, Thirimanna. Dickwella play better than Thirimanna and Chandimal . He is a in form player who has variety of shots. He can score runs quickly. May be more suitable for one day side than Thirimanna who score runs very slowly. Better give more opportunities to more youngsters rather stick to out of form Chandimal and Thirimanna. Then it will give more pressure to perform players who wants to stay in the team. if you not performing well, does not matter you will be dropped. Simple as that.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 25, 2014, 8:33 GMT

    Sri Lanka opening with a spinner.....RIP Fast bowling in Test cricket.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 25, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    If Sri Lanka keep preparing pitches like this, where the match is decided by the Toss. Where there is nothing on offer for both fast and slow bowlers, then they will remain at 6th in the world rankings. Simple.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 25, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    @All Yes, I am aware that SA won Galle but I dont agree with it. I dont agree that a match should be won by a Toss and I believe there should be even contest between bat and ball.

  • on July 25, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Vithanage. I have not seen a batsman struggling like he did to get going. He was waiting to get out. Thirimanna looks much better.

  • Sbora on July 25, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    Even Sri Lanka spinners will not take 20 wickets in this road.

  • on July 25, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    From here, SL should be very positive and try the 500 mark and leave only a little bit to be done in the second innings.

  • Amol_Gh on July 25, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    If Jayawardhane can score a hundred on this pitch, then DeVilliers can hit a triple-century here, single-handed. And Morkel, a century or two. All SA has to do is apply themselves, one ball at a time. This match is going in the direction of a draw.

  • Lion_96 on July 25, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa, its only sad when the shoe is on the other foot?

  • Damian123 on July 25, 2014, 6:50 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa: Did you say that in Galle? We'll have to wait and see whether it's a road or a lawn, which sub-continent teams get touring SA!

  • on July 25, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa, Like the last match? I guess we'll see how much of a road it is once the SL spinners get to work...

    Nice to see Steyn giving Dickwella a mouthful on the way off to lunch, quite the charmer our Dale, isn't he?

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 25, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    What a Road. So sad a test match is decided by a Toss.

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  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 25, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    What a Road. So sad a test match is decided by a Toss.

  • on July 25, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa, Like the last match? I guess we'll see how much of a road it is once the SL spinners get to work...

    Nice to see Steyn giving Dickwella a mouthful on the way off to lunch, quite the charmer our Dale, isn't he?

  • Damian123 on July 25, 2014, 6:50 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa: Did you say that in Galle? We'll have to wait and see whether it's a road or a lawn, which sub-continent teams get touring SA!

  • Lion_96 on July 25, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa, its only sad when the shoe is on the other foot?

  • Amol_Gh on July 25, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    If Jayawardhane can score a hundred on this pitch, then DeVilliers can hit a triple-century here, single-handed. And Morkel, a century or two. All SA has to do is apply themselves, one ball at a time. This match is going in the direction of a draw.

  • on July 25, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    From here, SL should be very positive and try the 500 mark and leave only a little bit to be done in the second innings.

  • Sbora on July 25, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    Even Sri Lanka spinners will not take 20 wickets in this road.

  • on July 25, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Vithanage. I have not seen a batsman struggling like he did to get going. He was waiting to get out. Thirimanna looks much better.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 25, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    @All Yes, I am aware that SA won Galle but I dont agree with it. I dont agree that a match should be won by a Toss and I believe there should be even contest between bat and ball.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 25, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    If Sri Lanka keep preparing pitches like this, where the match is decided by the Toss. Where there is nothing on offer for both fast and slow bowlers, then they will remain at 6th in the world rankings. Simple.