Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, SSC, 3rd day July 26, 2014

Domingo does not rule out SA win


They did it in Adelaide, when they batted out 124.3 overs in a match they were never trying to win. They did it again in Johannesburg, when they saw off 136 overs and surprised everyone by getting within eight runs of a huge target. Now South Africa are gearing up for Survivor 3: SSC. This time though, survival is not the only objective on the visitors' minds.

Despite falling well behind in the game after conceding a first-innings deficit of 139 and using most of day three to play it safe, South Africa coach Russell Domingo left open the possibility that his team could still win the second Test.

"If we can get them under a bit of pressure then they might take a while longer to get the runs and wickets fall," Domingo said. "We may end up chasing 240 in four sessions, which would mean we're still very much in the game."

Although Sri Lanka have been prone to collapses in the latter parts of their innings, it would still require South Africa to run through them quickly and the onus will be on Imran Tahir to step up. The legspinner has so far been both inconsistent and unlucky. However, his promotion up the order and his contribution with the bat would have bolstered the self-belief he often needs to perform. "Imran is a confident guy," Domingo said. "Imran has got a big role for us to play, especially with all the rough outside the left-handers' off stump."

South Africa know first hand of the difficulty for left-hand batsmen to score at the SSC, following JP Duminy's laboured 58-ball innings. After showing off a range of sweeps and reverse-sweeps in Galle, Duminy did not even know where to find the broom in Colombo. He persisted with shouldering arms, padding up, and the uncertainty eventually got him out.

Duminy battled for an hour and eight minutes, and contributed just three runs to South Africa's cause in a period where the game seemed to drift into nothingness because of the visitors' unwillingness to move. Domingo, however, explained the safety-first approach was taken with the bigger picture in mind.

"Hindsight is a great science. If he had gone for a shot and holes out to mid-on everyone says he is playing irresponsibly. We started brightly but then we lost two wickets in two balls. We have to assess what's important. JP tried to get us to lunch and then we reassessed. There were very tough conditions for left-handers today."

Because of the slow tempo, South Africa were constantly shifting focus between scoring runs and eating away time, and eventually decided that running down the clock was the best course of action.

"We wanted to get what we could with the bat, particularly with Herath bowling over the wicket for quite a long time. Runs and time are both so crucial," Domingo said. "It would have been great to get another 100 runs, but it would also have been great to have gotten 50 runs less and batted for another two hours. There was a good rear-guard action in Dale and Imran's partnerships with Hashim, but Sri Lanka still have a substantial lead."

Amla's slow century was yet another confirmation that South Africa made the right choice in choosing him as their Test leader. He absorbed pressure, thought about the situation all the time, and playing accordingly. "He was really patient and applied himself well," Domingo said.

He also put South Africa in a position from where they can still attack for a while, and if they find themselves defending with the bat, it will probably not be as arduous as it could have been.

Domingo was confident South Africa could see off more than 100 overs, even in trying conditions, because they had done it twice recently. "It's at times like this where they can call back on experience from the last time," Domingo said. "They've been in positions where they didn't really look like they had a chance of surviving and then came close and survived."

That will be an ominous reality for Sri Lanka, who may be tempted to give themselves time rather than runs and dangle a carrot in front of South Africa. What would Domingo do if he was in Sri Lanka's shoes?

"They'll probably look to get another 100 or so. I don't know, they must figure it out themselves," he said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Simon on July 27, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    Alviro has had his chances. For the last 20-30 innings he hasn't looked comfortable at all. I'd like to see Alviro dropped and Faf opening with Elgar. Faf is not a no.3. He's hard to get out and could probably see off the new ball most days, leaving Amla, DeVilliers and Duminy to make the big runs at 3,4 and 5.

    Also, Tahir has been given ample chance at Test level. He simply cannot concentrate for the 30 overs we need him to. Keep him as a limited overs wicket taker. With 10 overs he is very good.

    That leaves two spaces in the team, give one to Dane and the other to Van Zyl or Hendricks.

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    At lunch SL are ahead with 240 plus. They should look to secure another 80 to 100 runs next 20 overs and declare. 290 is a par score on this wicket.upto 320 is a challenging score for both. Upwards of 330 only obe verdict. SL win. Weather permitting. So SL should provide for minimum 110 overs to bowl at SA. More than adequate.

  • malik on July 27, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    To all those who compared the SSC pitch to a highway, wow, the Sri Lankan attack must be really great to bundle out a very good proteas batting line up for under 300 in such a highway. @ tommytuckersaffa I noticed that you had posted elsewhere that the pitch was crumbling on the 3rd day. Believe me dude, you have not seen crumbling pitches. This pitch did not have excessive turn, just slight turn, that too at a very slow pace giving the batsmen enough time to adjust. Hardly any uneven bounce, definitely not a spinning, biting surface full of venom which you would generally associate with a crumbling pitch. So guys please be fair in your comments without being absurd, whist a little bit of patriotism is, I guess acceptable.

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    Domingo is just having day dreams ! If Sri Lanka is bowled out 90 runs on 4th day with an average spinner to get 240 target, how can South Africa can even get 240 against 3 front-line spinners? Thats just a day dream. The actual image is quite different. Sri Lanka will give 350 target with 125 overs to bowl at them in 4 sessions and south Africa will just block, block, block and block again. They wont try winning it at a single moment, just Domingo is trying to push Sri Lanka use more overs as possible just to get minimum no. of overs as possible for them. Hope Sri Lanka wont be trapped into his "cunning" day dream !

  • David on July 27, 2014, 2:45 GMT

    @ Lassie.Perera writes that "When you look at the last three days of cricket in this match, it was looked like (SA) have played for a draw from the ball one."

    That is exactly what so many posters here said about SA by the end of day 2 in Galle, because SA had such a "terribly slow run rate." But, SL's 1st innings run rate was no different!!! And SA's 2nd inns run rate was higher than any other innings in this series. SA were playing for the win - and they won. Those who claimed that SA were playing for the draw were proven to be completely and utterly wrong.

    SA dismissed Tharanga & Sangakkara by the end of over five. If SA were playing for the draw, would they have sought to dismiss batsmen immediately? Why dismiss batsmen when you want them to bat one, and labour, so as to effect a draw!

    This "playing for the draw from ball one" is a convenient myth to bash SA and conceal a simple truth: this is tough cricket, on a tough pitch. Such myths foster no debate and goodwill.

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2014, 1:34 GMT

    SL should not fall into Domingo"s trap. SL should bat the first hour carefully score about 25 runs in that period which is not tough. In the second hour they can push the rate up and score another 60-65 runs in 13-14 overs so that by lunch they are about 230 lead with 5-6 wickets in hand. Post lunch they should approach it as a 20 over game. Play 20 overs and garner a 110 runs declaring 35 minutes before tea. By close if SL can get 3 wickets for less than a 110, then on day 5 they will go woth 220 to defend and 7 wickets to get. SA cannot fully defend in that situation. They will go for semi defence which will open the gates for wickets for SL. Match should get over 20 minutes before tea with SL victors by 70 runs. I have played the game in my mins already. Let's see..

  • Steve on July 27, 2014, 0:24 GMT

    The complete lack of foresight by SA coach Domingo is both surprising and disappointing. SL is 150 ahead already with all 10 wkts standing in their 2nd innings. He needs to remember SA is playing in SL not in their own back yard. SA would be lucky to get away with a draw in this test.

  • Carlyle on July 26, 2014, 23:54 GMT

    It appears from all that is being said in this article is that that quality of cricket dished out to the Spectators is of no concern. Surely 240 in 4 sessions is a pipe dream but the thinking on the subject is the disappointment to ardent fans of cricket. Watching Amla batting yesterday to soak up time is something that will no doubt kill test cricket going forward. T20 can be considered something of a lottery at times but with all this negative test cricket we are seeing is making one day 50 over cricket looking really great from a spectators point of view. Surely the spectator must be given some consideration gentlemen !!!

  • greig on July 26, 2014, 22:04 GMT

    @Lassie.Perera Why dont you get your cricket board to stop making pitches that are decided on the toss, so that there can be a spectacle.

  • Lasantha on July 26, 2014, 19:49 GMT

    South Africa is a very good side but with their ultra defensive mindset in this match can not be agreed. Neutral supporters of the game like to see more aggressive cricket from S Africa as they are the better side in test cricket. If Sri Lankans are playing for Number one spot that will be a different story. Because that is something they have never achieved. When you look at the last three days of cricket in this match, it was looked like they have played for a draw from the ball one. I think even South African supporters wish they wouldn't have done that. Btw, I'm a Sri Lankan fan and hoping SL to win this match. I think in this match all three results are possible but Sri Lankans have more chance to win.

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