Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, SSC, 5th day July 28, 2014

South Africa block their way to No. 1

220

Sri Lanka 421 (Jayawardene 165, Dickwella 72, Mathews 63) and 229 for 8 dec (Sangakkara 72, Mathews 63*, Morkel 4-45) drew with South Africa 282 (Amla 139, Perera 5-69, Herath 4-71) and 159 for 8 (Herath 5-40, Perera 3-60)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Play 05:23
Arnold: SA were not intimidated

After a riveting, un-Youtubeable day of cricket, South Africa are back at the top of the Test rankings. The settings were dramatic - leaden skies for most of the day, four or more men poised round the bat, the indefatigable spinners rifling through their overs and some of the world's most flamboyant batsmen in the middle.

And the batsmen deadbatted virtually everything to hang on for the draw that they were seemingly aiming for since midway through the second day. A few-minutes-long clip can't capture the technique, temperament and concentration needed to survive against a misbehaving ball on a raging turner or the feeling that every delivery could transform the game. Edges, noisy appeals and getting beaten are unavoidable even for the very best batsmen, but those can't be allowed to shake your focus.

On a day when South African fans prayed more for rain than for runs, the rain intermittently interrupted play but Sri Lanka still wheeled in 94 overs. South Africa ended on 159 for 8 in 111 overs - their slowest effort this century, slower even than the great escapes in Johannesburg and Adelaide. It was also their first Test series win in Sri Lanka since 1993, extended their incredible eight-year unbeaten run on the road, and made light of the recent loss of two giants in Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith.

At tea, Sri Lanka had taken only four wickets and those consummate match-savers, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, were in the middle. In the space of five overs, though, both were dismissed to slip catches by Mahela Jayawardene - who became the third to 200 Test catches - and Sri Lanka's spirits were further lifted as the grey skies changed to mostly blue. Umbrellas that young fans had been using to keep out the rain, were now being used to keep out the sunshine.

That left JP Duminy and the tail more than two hours to survive. Two hours for the Sri Lanka spinners to mop up the innings. In the first innings, Duminy had blotted out 58 deliveries to score 3; this time he took 65 deliveries to score 3. Vernon Philander showed the ability that has helped him bat 337 deliveries in his previous four innings, and with short bursts of rain eating up another 25 minutes, South Africa were breathing easier.

About 75 minutes remained when the players returned, and Duminy fell just as the final hour began - late in bringing down the bat against Dilruwan Perera. The anxiety levels shot up further for South Africa when Dale Steyn attempted an extravagant against-the-turn cover drive on his first ball.

With Ajantha Mendis showing no rhythm, Angelo Mathews not bowling, and the only specialist quick, Suranga Lakmal, hardly used, Sri Lanka were essentially down to a two-man attack of Rangana Herath and Perera. Mendis sent down only 13 overs in the final innings, more than 30 less than Herath and Perera each did. Herath has bowled 172 overs in the series, Perera 158.3, and they wheeled away tirelessly on the final day as well.

In the final hour, Sri Lanka frequently had all their fielders round the bat - a six-man catching crowd on the off side, and three lurking on the leg side. The appeals were becoming desperate, wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella getting on bended knee as he pleaded with the umpires, when Herath produced the breakthrough, getting Steyn to nick to the keeper.

Imran Tahir had whacked his helmet with his bat in frustration after being dismissed in the first innings. He had drawn a somewhat similar reaction from South Africa fans with his wayward bowling this series, but called on to block out the final half hour, he delivered.

With Philander calmly tapping everything away, and Tahir defending with exaggerated caution - the ball barely rolled a foot away after one of his crouching forward defensives - time began to run out for Sri Lanka. Suddenly South Africa's batsmen were calling for a change of gloves, a drink or anything the 12th man could run out to deliver and eat up precious minutes.

It came down to the final over, and the tension was so unbearable that Quinton de Kock pulled the top of his shirt over his head in the dressing room to avoid having to watch. Tahir, who was cramping badly, was lying prone on the ground - prompting remarks about footballers faking injury - but once he was back on his feet, an unflustered Philander kept out the six balls from Herath, tucked his bat under his arm and walked off. This is the third time in four Tests that it was a final-over finish for Sri Lanka - they came out on top in both games in England, but there was no joy this time.

They were undone by a team effort from South Africa, with not a single wicket going down to a rash stroke or a rush of blood. Amla was the stand-out batsman, but almost all the others also stuck around for at least an hour as their technique was rigorously examined by Herath and Perera. Herath was so precise that in his 27 overs before tea, the batsmen could leave alone only 10 deliveries while Perera kept tossing the ball up, and was unerringly accurate.

South Africa got an early indication of what to expect when Dean Elgar lost his offstump to a delivery that spun sharply across the stumps. Quinton de Kock was the most positive of the batsmen, but he had several leading edges as he looked to work plenty of deliveries to leg. He finally perished, caught at backward short leg for a relatively brisk 37.

That brought together South Africa's two best batsmen, Amla and AB de Villiers. Sri Lanka used up both their DRS appeals on de Villiers, once when he was yards out of the crease and the ball nowhere near the bat, and another in the 58th over when he survived a close lbw call. Amla hit two early boundaries, and then played out 57 successive dot balls. He was dropped by Angelo Mathews at gully in the 49th over, and was troubled by his hamstring, but nothing shook him out of his thou-shalt-not-pass approach.

Sri Lanka's fielders were quietened as the partnership stretched towards 25 overs, before Herath produced a ripper that drifted in and spun away to take de Villiers' off stump. Du Plessis survived a first-ball lbw through the DRS, and Amla was reprieved soon after tea when a certain lbw was turned down. Fortune seemed on South Africa's side, but there was to be no cruise to the finish line, as Herath removed both batsmen to set up a nerve-shredding finale.

A Test which began with a manic first session where runs were scored at 4.42 runs an over, ended with a session in which runs were scored at 1.38 an over.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • legfinedeep on July 28, 2014, 22:56 GMT

    A draw is still a result. And it was a result that SA very strategically and purposefully aimed for. Amla was 100% right when he said that the two tests were mirror images of each other. The difference is that SL got carried away and went for the win, even though the possibility was remote and it would have needed an effort of historic proportions. Teenagers think they are invincible, more mature adults realize the extent of the limitations and play within that. SA played mature and intelligent cricket. If SL players went about their second innings with the level-headed intention to block and not play shots, they might have carved out a draw. I like the comment by BuddyCry who said SA put a huge price on loss. When they can't win, they make darned sure that they can't lose either. They have tremendous fighting spirit and you really have to work hard to earn 20 of their wickets, right down to the tail.

  • on July 30, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Well done SA... They are proving that they can play anywhere and win the series.

  • on July 30, 2014, 1:41 GMT

    @siddhartha87- I read with interest your comment, SL does not have a great bowler and Herath is mediocre. The wicket did not deteriorate that much from day 4 to day 5 considering that it was under covers for an extended period on day 5. Whatever sweating under the covers took place during wet weather nullified further deterioration on day 5. But how many wickets SA took on day 4 by beating the bat through a good ball? None. All batsmen got out playing or looking to play aggressive shots in pursuit of quick runs. SA had a bowling line up with all bases covered. They had a front-line spinner, a second spinner whom SA coach referred to as an almost a frontliner, and a part time spinner as well. On that virtual same surface, SL spinners took 8 wickets when SA were looking to dead bat for a draw. Is this a mediocre attack then?

  • Sinhaya on July 30, 2014, 0:45 GMT

    No doubt Sri Lanka played brilliantly in this test as shown by the scores alone. No way would South Africa have won this test under any circumstances. Mathews would have got a 1st innings ton if not for his rashness. Definitely Angelo Mathews is the best batsman in test cricket today and hope he scores heavily against Pakistan too. Vithanage needs more chances as his 2nd innings dismissal was due to the rush for runs. Dickwella is a great find and hope he continues as cant forget Chandimal scoring twin fifties in the Durban test in Dec 2011 which we won, but he has been a failure since early 2013 by and large.

    Worth drafting in Shehan Jayasuriya to the squad to play Pakistan.

  • on July 29, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    Amongst all the praise for the Proteas, I really believe that Hashim Amla carried the same mindset as that of Angelo Mathews this year against Pakistan. SL were 1-nil up and went in the third test with all those stone-walling minds. But then those plans failed and Pakistan chased an improbable target. Just because Angelo preferred draw over aggressive strategy. Now, had SA not dug up a draw and lost, we all would be cursing them for negativity. After all SL were just 2 wickets away, just... With weather against them.

  • on July 29, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    I think one can safely say that after two innings' of solid spin the Proteas now know how to play Herath and Perera! I think these two did a wonderful job and I am not sarcastic in saying that. Fact of the matter is: you can't win tests with only two or three frontline bowlers. It must be a lesson to SL. You can't prepare a pitch that offers no assistance to your single medium fast bowler and then rely only on two bowlers to do a job against quality batsmen.

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 13:03 GMT

    SA are the best team in the world. Amla the best ever captian. Tahir magnificent bowler.

  • SA007 on July 29, 2014, 12:14 GMT

    Love the SA team. Welldone Guys!

  • on July 29, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    It indeed was an impressive show of battle between SL quality spinners on a turning track and the fabulous techniques of all SA batsmen! Especially the batting ability of the lower order was more than impressive. They do deserve to be the #1 position...

  • on July 29, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    It indeed was an impressive show of battle between SL quality spinners on a turning track and the fabulous techniques of all SA batsmen! Especially the batting ability of the lower order was more than impressive. They do deserve to be the #1 position...

  • legfinedeep on July 28, 2014, 22:56 GMT

    A draw is still a result. And it was a result that SA very strategically and purposefully aimed for. Amla was 100% right when he said that the two tests were mirror images of each other. The difference is that SL got carried away and went for the win, even though the possibility was remote and it would have needed an effort of historic proportions. Teenagers think they are invincible, more mature adults realize the extent of the limitations and play within that. SA played mature and intelligent cricket. If SL players went about their second innings with the level-headed intention to block and not play shots, they might have carved out a draw. I like the comment by BuddyCry who said SA put a huge price on loss. When they can't win, they make darned sure that they can't lose either. They have tremendous fighting spirit and you really have to work hard to earn 20 of their wickets, right down to the tail.

  • on July 30, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Well done SA... They are proving that they can play anywhere and win the series.

  • on July 30, 2014, 1:41 GMT

    @siddhartha87- I read with interest your comment, SL does not have a great bowler and Herath is mediocre. The wicket did not deteriorate that much from day 4 to day 5 considering that it was under covers for an extended period on day 5. Whatever sweating under the covers took place during wet weather nullified further deterioration on day 5. But how many wickets SA took on day 4 by beating the bat through a good ball? None. All batsmen got out playing or looking to play aggressive shots in pursuit of quick runs. SA had a bowling line up with all bases covered. They had a front-line spinner, a second spinner whom SA coach referred to as an almost a frontliner, and a part time spinner as well. On that virtual same surface, SL spinners took 8 wickets when SA were looking to dead bat for a draw. Is this a mediocre attack then?

  • Sinhaya on July 30, 2014, 0:45 GMT

    No doubt Sri Lanka played brilliantly in this test as shown by the scores alone. No way would South Africa have won this test under any circumstances. Mathews would have got a 1st innings ton if not for his rashness. Definitely Angelo Mathews is the best batsman in test cricket today and hope he scores heavily against Pakistan too. Vithanage needs more chances as his 2nd innings dismissal was due to the rush for runs. Dickwella is a great find and hope he continues as cant forget Chandimal scoring twin fifties in the Durban test in Dec 2011 which we won, but he has been a failure since early 2013 by and large.

    Worth drafting in Shehan Jayasuriya to the squad to play Pakistan.

  • on July 29, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    Amongst all the praise for the Proteas, I really believe that Hashim Amla carried the same mindset as that of Angelo Mathews this year against Pakistan. SL were 1-nil up and went in the third test with all those stone-walling minds. But then those plans failed and Pakistan chased an improbable target. Just because Angelo preferred draw over aggressive strategy. Now, had SA not dug up a draw and lost, we all would be cursing them for negativity. After all SL were just 2 wickets away, just... With weather against them.

  • on July 29, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    I think one can safely say that after two innings' of solid spin the Proteas now know how to play Herath and Perera! I think these two did a wonderful job and I am not sarcastic in saying that. Fact of the matter is: you can't win tests with only two or three frontline bowlers. It must be a lesson to SL. You can't prepare a pitch that offers no assistance to your single medium fast bowler and then rely only on two bowlers to do a job against quality batsmen.

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 13:03 GMT

    SA are the best team in the world. Amla the best ever captian. Tahir magnificent bowler.

  • SA007 on July 29, 2014, 12:14 GMT

    Love the SA team. Welldone Guys!

  • on July 29, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    It indeed was an impressive show of battle between SL quality spinners on a turning track and the fabulous techniques of all SA batsmen! Especially the batting ability of the lower order was more than impressive. They do deserve to be the #1 position...

  • on July 29, 2014, 11:15 GMT

    It indeed was an impressive show of battle between SL quality spinners on a turning track and the fabulous techniques of all SA batsmen! Especially the batting ability of the lower order was more than impressive. They do deserve to be the #1 position...

  • on July 29, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    @fan1099, It's no use debating with a person who don't want to see the truth. SA would never have made that score on that wicket. And Amla and co knew that thus the defending method was used. Sri lanka had to score 260 on the last day and lost the match. SA had to defend in perth before winning the series. Had to defend in Joburg and won the series. Scored 450 and had faf not lost his wicket to a run out SA could have won even that game.

    Bottom line is we won the series. If you don't like it get out.

    PS. Only people who don't want to think is dumb.

  • timeless_steel on July 29, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    Heartening to see South Africa regain the No. 1 spot in the test ranking. They played well on the very sub-continental pitch suited for spinners and they would take drawn match like that on any given day.

    I think as long as South Africa has such an able pace bowling attack in the form of Steyn, Morkel and Philander complimented by decent batting attack, they will be the team to beat for the coming years and there series victory in SriLanka clearly suggests that.

  • GermanPlayer on July 29, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    People forget that this was the first series after losing both Smith and kallis. Any team would have stumbled after losing two greats like them. But SA still managed to win in a country they haven't won in 21 years.

    Haters can keep hating.

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    @vkias. We sure applauded when SA chased over 400. That was extraordinary cricket. And I think they also scored somthing like 400 to win an ODI aswell. That is why we are confused. With so much talent in the current team why they are adopting negative tactics.

  • GermanPlayer on July 29, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    @fan1099 AB plays the IPL in April and May. He also plays ODIs for South Africa. You can watch his attacking cricket at display in those games.

    In this game, he showed us that he is not a one-dimensional player and he can also block on a raging turner. It seems sad to you but t us cricket lovers, it was another showcase of talent from a person we may soon be calling a genius.

  • vkumar_086 on July 29, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    @Raja Amaratunga...just two years back, the same number one test team chased the highest total in fast and bouncy pitch against Australia in test....414 runs with the loss of just 4 wickets...cant that be entertaining cricket?....SL is nowhere near to it, how its called as brand of cricket (losing both test and ODI series in home and did not win a single test in India), im confused....plz publish

  • on July 29, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    even though sa yet to win series in India to deserve their number one spot..still lot of consistency needed amidst fortunes..quite good going saffa. .

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    It was sad to see the most dominating and feared batsman of the current era De Villiers also going in to a ridiculously defensive mode under Amla'a captaincy.

  • NBZ1 on July 29, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    Final thought. To many, this match may not have seemed entertaining (certainly not someone addicted to the IPL style of cricket). But there are many other fans who find such games exciting, nerve-wracking and enthralling. Yes, it's fun to watch Clarke and Warner having a proper go at the bowlers and scoring 400 in a single day. But there's a different kind of enjoyment from watching batsmen defending resolutely against relentless, accurate bowling with chirpy fielders hovering around the bat, the match on the line every delivery. Even Aussie fans, I think, understand this intuitively, which is why Faf du Plessis is rated so highly in Australia. That's also why teams take such pride in beating SA - it's much more deeply satisfying beating a team that will not give in, than a team that just plays aggressive cricket for the sake of aggressive cricket. As Ryan Harris said after valiantly overcoming a similar SA fight, "That, out there, was proper Test-match cricket. That was bloody hard."

  • NBZ1 on July 29, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    A great team is not one that attacks like a bulldog in every game. A great team fights in every game, but it picks the right battle to fight. In a game where there is a scent of victory, a great team attacks and gives itself every chance to win. In a game where victory for the opposition seems certain, the great team fights and makes it extremely difficult for the opponents to win.

    I have already posted about some fine draws achieved by WI stubbornly defending on the final day. Recall that Australia's series win against SA in 1997 was also built around an excellent match-saving innings played by Mark Waugh, when Australia were chasing a very similar target to what SA were up against in this match (361 in about 110 overs).

    Also, much of the criticism of SA's approach reeks of double standards. Where were these critics when England achieved their famous draws against Aus in 2009 and SA in 2010? Where were they when SL drew the 1st Test vs England last month?

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on July 29, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    @fan1019, In Adam Gilchrist's book he talks about how Australia changed there tactics after Steve Waugh retired saying " Our aggressive approach would sometimes backfire" He went on to give many examples of losing games when they were in front and said under Ricky Ponting thy changed there approach to a more conservative style. As for SA they played brilliant cricket ,As an Aus fan I knew our Number 1 ranking was only temporary As SA's Team are still a little to good. Instead of looking at it as SA playing or a draw how about looking at it as SA were playing for a series victory And there is nothing wrong with that.

  • Greatest_Game on July 29, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    @ Jamie Moneghan. The Smith-Ponting Trophy is a great idea! 100% agreement and support from me.

    The Ashes are a huge part of Ausie cricketing history, and we all respect that. However, the series are generally not particularly exciting. Aus dominated for about 100 years, Eng won a few, and Aus are back for the next 100 years.

    Any cricket between Aus & SA is always exciting. The toughest, most competitive, no holds barred, "no whinging please, chaps," cricket. The Ashes are history. A SA vs Aus, 5+ test series every 2 years minimum would be the 21st century's real rivalry. (Besides, half the Eng team are Saffas anyway. Ashes are basically Aus v 'SA Lite'!) If Aus want to be the greatest cricket nation, then they have to get past SA for the title.

    Bring It On!

    P.S. In the event of a draw, the winner will be decided by a Steyn vs Johnson cage match!

  • Champagne_Cricket on July 29, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    Well played Saffas', hate to admit but you showed us SLns how to play Test Cricket. If not for SL going for reckless shots in the first test this series would have been drawn or won by SL. It was quite great to see how the Saffas' batted in the second innings, even the tail enders made huge contributions. SL should learn from the Saffas.

  • on July 29, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    SA came into the SL tour with two things in mind. First being to get the monkey off their back of not winning an ODI series in SL and to put right their horrendous ODI stats in the island nation. They changed that stat by winning the ODI series. SL was very poor in the series in all three departments. They fielding like a first eleven school side. Second goal of SA was to win back the No 1 test ranking from Aussie. They did that comfortably by playing positive cricket in Galle and negative cricket in Colombo. Srilanka has to seriously consider their selections for the Pak tour.

  • NBZ1 on July 29, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    I think SA's 4th innings performances - not just the draws like Adelaide and SSC, but also some of their chases such as the 414 at Perth - are transcending the way we view Test cricket. No longer is a side guaranteed to win after posting a target of 350+ with 100+ overs left - they still have to bowl extremely well to get the win. So the match remains interesting right up till the final ball. Contrary to what many posters are claiming, these have made Test cricket MORE interesting, not less. If SA had hit out for 200 all out in 50 overs on the final day, which according to the posters here is what the great Aussie or WI teams would have done, would the match be more interesting? No, because then the result would have been a foregone conclusion. This match was interesting precisely because SA chose to defend - the right strategy under the circumstances - which then required SL to bowl extremely well to get the win, and left the result in doubt until the last over.

  • NBZ1 on July 29, 2014, 8:31 GMT

    fan1099 on (July 29, 2014, 6:39 GMT): "And also please mention a single match where WI or Aussies applied defensive tactics like this (when they were on top)."

    I took up the challenge and did a quick search of WI's games in the late 70s and 80s. Here are examples of matches where WI blocked out the last innings for a draw (I doubt it's anywhere near complete): 1. Pak v WI, 1st Test, 1977: WI 251/9 chasing 306, Andy Roberts scored 9* in 95 minutes. 2. Aus v WI, 5th Test, 1978 (during Packer, so the teams are not the strongest): WI 258/9 chasing 369. 3. India v WI, 4rd Test, 1978-79: WI 197/9 chasing 335. 4. Aus v WI, 1st Test, 1992: WI 133/8 chasing 231, Ian Bishop scoring 16* off 82 deliveries. To me, and most fans, these games are also examples of great cricket from the WI, showcasing their ability to fight for a draw even when the chips are down. But perhaps you have a different standard for what is a great team, and perhaps the WI team was not as great as everyone claims!

  • on July 29, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    Winning is all about strategy. And strategy is carved out of assessment of the situation. SA wanted one result, win the series and regain Number 1 test ranking. And to achieve it, they needed to win at least one match and avoid losing the other, and they did just that. And please, lets not complain about the rain, its an act of God, not even SA can control it, perhaps they did pray for it. But then, God is for all of us.

  • Greatest_Game on July 29, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    @ fan1099. Have you perhaps notices that no one agrees with you? You are not going to convince anyone by posting the same thing again and again. We have heard your opinion. We don't agree. You will not change our minds. Give it a rest.

  • on July 29, 2014, 8:12 GMT

    Well Played Sri lanka, you guys came really close but my Proteas yet again showed they HATE losing and wanted to create memories for years to come! Good luck for your final series mahela :)

  • GermanPlayer on July 29, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    @fam1099 You are saying SA surendred to a weaker team? If I could win a test series and get to the top ranking, I would not only be ready to surrender but would happily pay other prices too.

    Also, Srilanka went for the win in the last game. If they had actually drawn the game, which was a possibility considering SA didn't have any decent spinner, then SA would have gone for win in this game as draw would not have made sense. SA achieved what Srilanka could not achieve against a weaker spin attack. You can keep hating SA's approach but it works.

  • ZainE111 on July 29, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    @fan1099 - At tea on day 2, SA were 23/2 facing a deficit of 400 runs. Amla had two options at that point:

    1) Go all out for the win. This would have required making a large number of runs (say 550 - 600) over the next two days and putting SL in to bat at tea on day 4. Keep in mind how the pitch was turning and the quality Herath and Perera showed at Galle. I'm sure you can see the flaw in your criticism of Amla now - if he had gone for the win there is every possibility that the batting collapse would have continued, in which case SA would have been made to follow on and likely lose the test.

    2) Play cautiously and protect your wicket and WIN THE SERIES. Even if it means a draw is more likely than a SA win in the second test.

    Now what would you have done, fan1099?

    It's also worth noting that shorter (ie 2-test) series may be to blame here. A 5-test series could encourage more positive play since you have the opportunity to bounce back from a loss. Any thoughts?

  • on July 29, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Seeing Australia seem to play for a trophy against every nation except SA. Australian and South African fans should get a petition going so we can get more series with more Tests between these two great countries but not only that as we should now be playing for the Ponting-Smith trophy? A great mark of respect to both greats and also add a little more spice to a already gritty rivalry. Thoughts people????

  • Testcricketistop on July 29, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Any team achieving success receives criticism, sometimes it is constructive and other times not worth the paper it is written on.

    There are different ideologies that countries will follow in regards to how they approach cricket.

    The gung ho teams, tend to go for glory most of the time, it makes them tick, it makes them achieve and in that they build the belief of how they will gain success.

    South Africa as a nation does not have a gung ho nature.

    They take a measured approach to sport, and play the percentages.

    In the first test Amla was applauded for his declaration and everyone thougt it was sporting. There for appealing to the masses.

    In the second test, after the first innings SA was on the back foot, ad with two early wickets down, the decision was made to play for the draw.

    That may not appeal to everyone, however the credit they do deserve is for achieving the success they set out for, win the series.

    We are now unbeaten in 11 successive away series. Winning 7 of them.

  • on July 29, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    fan1099. Sri Lanka play entertaining cricket? There couldnt be a statement more farther away from the truth as that...

  • on July 29, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    RajaAmaratunga. I think Test cricket has more to fear from SLs brand of dour cricket than SA defensive style in this Test to regain the NO1 position.

  • on July 29, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    @fan1099 I don't remember all the specifics of games played when Aus and WI were on top but They were playing from the front in most matches and I'm sure they would gladly have traded some of their loses for draws. How many teams do you think would win this test chasing 421 and @ 23 for 2 late on day two facing three prety good spinners on a spinners dream wicket? Also bearing in mind they are one up in a series in a country they have not won in for 20 years.Of course they are going to bat cautiously and protect their lead The odds on result is hugely in favor of Srilanka. Not even your great teams from yesteryear would win this from there. SA has played tests were they averaged 3,4 or even 5 an over when the situation called for it. Maybe this is what makes them great, they play the situation, win way more than any other team over the last 8 years and they are really really tough to beat in any conditions. Wins (whether pretty or not) and loses that is how success is gauged. SA#1

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    Most comments supporting SAs defensive cricket have really not got the point. It is perfectly alright to draw, not lose etc. But when the team vying for no 1 rank is playing defensive cricket from their 1st innings its just not sport. When the underdog team or a relatively low strenghted team goes for a draw against a superior team it is perfectly honourable. Comparing SA and SL obviously SA is much stronger (rankingwise and otherwise). So basically you are surrendering to a weaker team. The spinfriendly pitch story is wrong. If you want to be no 1 you should know how to play spin. Otherwise request ICC to take spinners out of Cricket and also probably not play cricket on these so called SUBCONTINENT PITCHES!

  • on July 29, 2014, 7:33 GMT

    If this is how nmber one Test Team play to win a seris, the god hlp Tst Cricket

  • vkumar_086 on July 29, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    @Sinhaya..i thought 111 overs are sufficient to take SA batsmen 10 wickets on spinners paradise (two experienced spinners and 2 on field captains to give suggestions), but later it was proved wrong...this only tells how weak is the bowling attack of SL

  • shane-oh on July 29, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    I've really enjoyed seeing South Africa, in the last couple of years, show the kind of test match resolve that is so lacking around the world these days because of the shortened attention spans caused by T20.

    How many times do we see teams come out to save a match, make clear that is their intention, then lose ten wickets to poor, needlessly aggressive shots? My team, New Zealand, have been guilty of it countless times in recent years - having the right idea, but not the right mental fortitude - though here's hoping the remarkable match against India earlier this year is a turning point in that regard.

    I really respect South Africa for their ability to do this correctly when it is required. People who complain simply don't understand the nature of test cricket - and as already pointed out, who can argue with the results and ranking of the South African team?

  • heathrf1974 on July 29, 2014, 6:59 GMT

    It is very tight at the top and SA's lead may extend after Australia's tour of Pakistan.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 29, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    @Steven Charie, expertly said my friend, I couldnt have responded any better. Thats an excellent assessment of the game.

    @fan1099, please just stick to watching the IPL, its just easier for everyone that way.

  • Greatest_Game on July 29, 2014, 6:53 GMT

    @ xtrafalgarx writes SA "probably didn't deserve to have their no.1 ranking taken as it was, so it's fair enough they have won it back."

    Yes indeed. As Aussies are fond of saying, "normal service has been resumed!" (Until the next "technical adjustment" of course!)

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:53 GMT

    saf is actually the no 1 team in the world .on that dust bowl viciously spinning track and up against the 3 sri lankan spinners to play out 111 overs was just a .class apart i personally salute them for doing that they showed their grit and detemination in real sense .this draw was more than a win "hats off to the proteas"

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:50 GMT

    Fan1099 - SA has been on the receiving end of a few draws that were nethralling. I remember England in Cape Town a few years back when Onions held out the alst few overs and Steyn was trying to knock him over.

    I was disappointed with the result but I understood why England were so happy.

    Your other comment "If SL played top their potential". Well that's silly. SA didnt play to their potential either. It's what happens on the field that counts.

    SA did well to save the game. They were a little lucky because of the rain. Of course SLwould have seen the weather foprecasts (they are accurate these days) and they could have declared earlier...

  • Greatest_Game on July 29, 2014, 6:47 GMT

    @ wellrounded87 says, again, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Playing for a draw is negative cricket ... the ICC needs to come up with some rule changes to remove it."

    Unfortunately, you can keep saying it as long as you like but your opinion will not change the way test cricket has been played for over a century.

    In Test Cricket, a draw is one of 3 EQUALLY valid results. A match is part of a larger competition - the Series. A win is achieved ONLY when the losing side completes 2 innings, by losing 10 wickets, or declaring. Thus, the 'test' is TAKING WICKETS to win match AND series. Changing the rules on day 5 only penalizes the loser of the toss. Period!

    The way to minimize draws is COMPETITIVE PITCHES. A day 1 road that is a day 5 minefield benefits ONLY the toss winner. Unless a team is skilled & tough enough to force a draw, the game is the coin toss: the rest is window dressing.

    Change the PITCHES, not the GAME! Your solution ENCOURAGES road to minefield pitches!

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    All I see is complaints from sri lanka supporters. The ausie team did the same against SA when they were 1 nil up and hansie still put a stump through the door of the umpires.

    SA played this game on a 5th day pitch in sri lanka to an unreachable score. They played the situation the game was in. To protect their lead. I was entertained by the cricket because it was so nerve wrecking. I appreciated the skill by both batsmen and bowlers and the difficult conditions. Sri lanka and all the sub continent teams are yet to win a test series in SA and we have won in every country.

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    @Steven Charie. If you took the effort to understand what was commented I never mentioned drawing a game is bad. But SA were defensive from 1st innings itself! If the match was beyond them in the second innings it is alright to play for a draw. But SA were playing defensive cricket from the word go! And also please mention a single match where WI or Aussies applied defensive tactics like this (when they were on top).

  • nonpartisan on July 29, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    The match was tantalizing throughout with the result likely even with last 2 balls remaining. For me, it was exciting day of cricket and was a culmination of fighting spirit of fighting with the back to the wall. Those who cannot digest a hard fought draw should focus on limited overs cricket. Onlt Test cricket brings out the concept of a "draw" and all those "draws" where the realistic possibilities of a result exist till the last over, are exciting matches. How many teams in the world have played out 110 overs in the 4th innings on a turning beuty on the subcontinent pitches. Let us give the credit to the team for achieving this incredible and highly respectful result with a band of batsmen who can adopt to the situation so perfectly. Hats off !! Take a bow.

  • Tendulkardrives on July 29, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    congratz south africa for winning the test and odi series in sl.

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    Well done to the Proteas another character filled performance. Sad day for Sri - Lanka and sadder days await when Sangakarra and Jawardene depart the scene. They have been magnificent over the years and as a SA supporter I am going to miss them. Such a pity about all the negative and spiteful comments by so many SL fans who have shown themselves to be one eyed and very ungracious in defeat.

  • yogicoolboy on July 29, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    Well Done South African Team. They Fought till the end. Deserved to be nos 1.

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    What a ridiculous comment fan1099. Cricket, is cricket. A draw exists because it is a possible outcome, and one that is completely justified. Do you want me to dissect each and every sport which completely rejects your theory?

    Why not switch to watching American sports, where a result is the be-all and end-all, even if it means going to 18 phases of overtime.

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    . @fan1099. Fan of what? Definitely not a fan of test cricket. There has always been one of three results in test cricket with a draw being one of them. Amla batted for 11 hours to try save his team from losing Once winning became an unlikely option. Sure you can chase every total and maybe win 1 in 10 or you can buckle down and take the hard path and earn a draw so you may live to fight another day. Perhaps you should stick with IPL where it's a little easier to understand. Kind of like chess and checkers. Earning a draw against all odds is super demoralizing for the team that should have won and you keep them in the field for a long time. these are just a few of the factors that play in when playing test cricket. Maybe you are right though SA might need a change in strategy they have only just won a one day and test series in Srilanka and are unbeaten away for eights years with 8 winning series and 4 drawn. COME ON MAN

  • PPL11 on July 29, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    @fan1099 - SL Brand of Cricket? when they dont manage to win ODI or test series on their home soil? come on man except your defeat !! Hats of to SA what a team world champs in true sense

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    @lefinedeep. Yes I appreciate your point. But if SL pulled a win in Galle test we would be telling about the test to our grandchildren wouldnt we? The loss would be forgotten in months. But a dramatic win? Remembered and treasured forever!

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    Cricket is a sport blokes. Sport is there to entertain. From ancient days people came to see sport for entertainment. SL play entertaining cricket period. In sport primary objective is entertainment and the result only is statistics like rank etc. If your primary objective is statistical superiority then you have got your priorities mixed. Also can some one enlighten us whether there have beenany similar negative approaches to draw a game by WI or Aussies when they were on top!

  • Amozie on July 29, 2014, 5:13 GMT

    @fan1099

    Sri Lanka 0 - 1 SA. This game was entertaining. SA kept out 94 overs on the last day. Just say you wanted them to throw it away. So that your Sri Lanka can win. There is nothing wrong with what SA did.

  • Amol_Gh on July 29, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    fan1099: ("SA shouldn't have blocked" ??) Do you even know that this test was being played in SRL against SRL on a raging turner on a Day-5 ? Do you even know that SA put magnificent efforts in the first test to WIN it and hence take a lead ? In case you don't know, maybe you should look at the scorecards on this website for a change, to be aware of the venues of these test matches...

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    Had SL played to their potential SL could hae come up winners 2-0. Alas it was not to be. But I still support the way SL play their cricket rather than how SA play.It is SLs own brand of cricket which has brought them so much success in the past worldcups. If you take the post 96' world cups SL are the most successful team. WELL DONE SL!

  • MelbourneMiracle on July 29, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    I saw MJ waved at Mathews only about 1 or two overs asking him to declare when Anjelo actually declared. So I don't think that 2 overs early declaration would've made a big change. Just as we were generous enough to give credit to Mahela and Sanga for their when we won in UK, let's be fair to pass the criticism also to senior men for not guiding young Mathews for the right time declaration.

    to be continued...

  • on July 29, 2014, 4:17 GMT

    there was no use of playing mendis.. wasting of resources.. why not tried suraj randiv or tharindu kaushal who were in super form in local cricket .also in 4th day we lost a valuable chance of getting SA in just after tea .at least 10 to 12 overs .so it may be the match...anjelo still is a defensive captain. not attacking as yet . take risks . you have great consultants for only 2 more tests .BTW good performances by Amla n SA.cherish performances of Dilruwan .he has shown why he should be there..

  • Welay-White-Water on July 29, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    Green caped south Africa won Test and ODI. Lankan chapmen failed to get Hasheem early. Missed chances. Rain helped SA. Mendis went home wicketless,shame for his cricketing roots. Match could have run until 6.30 having had good natural lux with spinners operating.Congrats SA.

  • siddhartha87 on July 29, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    Sri Lanka does not have great bowler in their team and that's the reason this test was a draw. Herath is a mediocre defensive bowler.

  • Lion_Wallaby on July 29, 2014, 3:28 GMT

    @Vkias:This is about the SA and SL match and not Warne or Murali. But still as per your comment Warne is No1 and Murali is next!!!

  • on July 29, 2014, 3:28 GMT

    I would also say in hind sight that Prasad should have played instead of Mendis. At Leeds it was the short ball that got Anderson. May be couple of those would have done the trick. Lanka should take heart that they made South Africa literally kneel down in front of them to secure a draw.

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    It would be pretty absurd to compare SA to WI or even Aussies during the time when they were on top. Tell one instant where WI or Aussies blocked their way to draws tamely? Top teams have pride and timidity is not a characteristic shown by top performers. (Eg: Mohommed Ali) Like I said before SA are statistically No 1 team but cricket is a sport for petes sake. Give the spectator some excitement!

  • real26_03 on July 29, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    What a shame that the series ended with 2 Tests! It would have been amazing if there a 3rd test! ICC seriously should look after what people.

  • Albert_cambell on July 29, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    Well done proteas. I mentioned it earlier that we will in the test series in SL this time and our boys did it. What a start to Amlas captaincy career. In his very 1st series he registers a historical series win in SL.

  • fan1099 on July 29, 2014, 2:53 GMT

    If you really analyseSL should have been 2-0 winners of th series. We had a very good chance in galle with 9 wickets and 250-260 runs to score. At SSC rain, certain umpiring decisions and delayed declaration let SL down. Steyn was the differentaitor when comparing the two teams. But without Dale SA would have lost both games. Mathews captaincy on both matches coukd have been better. But I don't see SA to dominate world cricket with this set up with Dale to retire soon.

  • on July 29, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    Such games or the games like Ind v RSA, Joburg OR the Ashes test in 2005 at Oval Or a game at Adelaide in 2013 just glorifies the tag of the game....... "THE GAME OF GLORIOUS UNCERTAINITES"

  • hiranya on July 29, 2014, 2:41 GMT

    Honestly, put Angelo Mathews in Hasim Amla's boots. Suppose Mathews and co. defended 100 odd overs scoring 1 run per over! Pundits will start talking about spirit of the game and will ridicule about Angelo's tactics. this is no. 1 test team in the world (at least statistically) batting in the most boring manner!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sinhaya on July 29, 2014, 2:11 GMT

    @vkias, Murali is the best ever spin bowler in history and his wickets tally proves. Your slander does not matter 1 cent at all. Definitely Sri Lanka played brilliantly yesterday and no one can deny it. If not for lost time due to rain, we would have definitely won it.

  • on July 29, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    To the people saying that the SA team don't win much overseas, they just draw everything - during their current 8 year streak without defeat away from home, they've won 8 series and drawn 4. Included in those eight are 4 wins in Australia and England, and one in Sri Lanka.

    Still want to doubt them?

  • redneck on July 29, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    @wapuser i would argue the biggest difference when comparing warne to the other 2 dominant spinners of the time woud be home ground advantage. sri lanka produced tailor made pitches for murali for every home match he played in, india did the same for kumble (perhaps to a lesser extent) where as warne never got one iota of help from his home goundstaff, he excelled on what are tradionally spinners graveyards like the gabba! and thats even before we count up the walking wickets murali feasted on vs bangledesh and zimbabwe!!! warnie all the way!!!

  • AltafPatel on July 29, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    They have now won away test series in all nations in last 8 years except India where they levelled series in last 2 tours but could not win. What an away test series winning streak.

  • on July 29, 2014, 1:52 GMT

    @ Arthur. Why can't we compare them to the West Indies? As good as they were, they had their weaknesses too. Larry Gomes was a good but not great player, Richardson was beautiful to watch but did most of his run-scoring against Australia, after Lloyd retired in the mid-80s their middle-order wasn't as strong and guys like Logie, Hooper etc were eating up spots in the side. The West Indies' main advantage is that they were always fielding four specialist world-class fast bowlers. South Africa's fourth specialist option has always been an issue. However the West Indies never had an all-rounder in the same hemisphere as Jacques Kallis, or Shaun Pollock for that matter if you want to go back a while.

    The West Indies' winning percentage in the 1980s was about 55. Below that of South Africa. That says a lot about the quality of this side.

  • SLDude on July 29, 2014, 1:34 GMT

    Well done SA. you guys deserve to win the test series as well as NO 1 test ranking. Hats off ..

  • on July 29, 2014, 1:06 GMT

    South Africa batted well..Why was Dammika Prasad not played after his heroics against England is baffling..Why is Akila Dhananjaya not preffered in tests..Mendis once a mystery bowler who had taken 26 wickets against us in 2008 did not manage a single wicket is quite frustrating..someone here was comparing Murali and Kumble with Warne.The biggest difference was Warne was backed up McGrath,Lee and Gillespe while Murali and Kumble were the only star bowlers for their respective teams.Stop comparing the legends.

  • redneck on July 29, 2014, 1:06 GMT

    wow a draw at the ssc (who didnt see that coming?) well done to south africa on claiming back the mace! at the moment they have ticked more boxes than us! australia still need away series wins against india, england and pakistan. and home series wins agaist new zealand and south africa. after the aussies do that roll on another decade of aussie domination!!! you cant keep the greatest test nation down for long!!!

  • on July 29, 2014, 1:04 GMT

    That's what I meant srilanka are afraid to loose if they had declared earlier they had good chance of winning. Srilankan management needs to remove there conservative Approach to test cricket , also there fans support there team blindly

  • SL_Boy on July 29, 2014, 0:59 GMT

    D Philanders 98 balls kill srilankas chances

  • on July 29, 2014, 0:32 GMT

    As much as south Africa deserved the number one test rankings I think sri-lanka could be disappointed in their spinners who should have easily won the game for them, maybe the team selection is not 100% right. always a proud protea supporter though Thank you sri-lanka for having us, and thank you for not making a rank turner in either of the games.

  • Rizwanodayar on July 29, 2014, 0:31 GMT

    I said we have better chance to winning if we go with 2 pace and 3 quality spin bowler. Instead we played with 2 spinners and one past bowler, From Mendis there was no contribution as bowler. When you only play with 3 main line bowlers your chance of winning is minimum in this tough condition. Srilanka was forced into wining position by exceptional performance of of two spinners but they failed deliver killing blow due to lack other bowling support.

  • bllas on July 29, 2014, 0:30 GMT

    This is really funny, earlier Sri Lanka and Pakistan last test match SL paly for draw and it's been criticized as negative cricket. I also agree, but here when SA play more negative cricket it's become a great escape. I feel Sri Lanka has played much positively through out the series. Last match they went for win in seam friendly pitch even they lost i like that batting.

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on July 29, 2014, 0:20 GMT

    @Sentula I think you should check the stats, Aus through the late 90's and early 2000's had a win percentage way higher than this SA team and even Higher than the great Windies team, So yes they may have lost a few series during this time but the were an Outstanding side.

  • Chrishan on July 29, 2014, 0:20 GMT

    It's sad to see a lot of my fellow Sri Lankan fans making excuses for our inability to bowl out SA on a spinners paradise. Yes, SA played defensively, but so did we against Pakistan (3rd Test) when we were 1-0 up in the series. The difference was that our tail crumbled cheaply, whereas SA's #8, 9, 10 batted for 150+ deliveries. Perhaps, our tail could learn from SA how not to throw away wickets. SA did what they did to WIN, and if a draw was needed to gurantee it, they achieved it. We musn't make excuses, like they batted defensively, rather look at our own bowling worries (Mendis, unable to get a wicket on this track). Take nothing away from SA, deserved #1 spot.

  • on July 29, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    @vkias going by your logic Vaas was better than McGrath because his top 10 performances were in Sri Lanka. I suggest you try to dig deeper and try harder. I can understand if you don't wanna follow what's going on England and follow the SL team. Getting trashed for 560 by this English team must be very hard for an Indian fan to take.

  • on July 29, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    It was turning but it was really slow turn and hard to penetrate the defence of batsmen without no mystery factor by either spinner. It was harder to bat on the 2-3 days than the 5th day. In hindsight we should have declared a bit earlier considering 1-0 is same as 2-0 but those 15 overs lost to rain could have still won us the game. Best of luck to SA and not too disappointed with SL specially at the SSC where it's really hard to get a result at. We really lost the series at Galle in the first innings when we batted.

  • wellrounded87 on July 28, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. Playing for a draw is negative cricket that no one wants to see and the ICC needs to come up with some rule changes to remove it.

    I think a very simple solution would be that if the fourth innings lasts a minimum of 100 overs than a Draw is no longer an option. If the batting side falls short of the target at the end of play on Day 5 having faced over 100 overs it is a loss.

    This sort of negative defensive cricket is killing the game and is a big reason why hit n giggle (T20) is taking over. I love hard fought genuine competitive test cricket, but I'd rather see my team humiliated than block their way to a draw.

    Another option is if a player faces a certain number of consecutive deliveries without a run scored (let's say 50). Their wicket is forfeit.

    South Africa are a quality team, but they will never measure up to the Great Australian and West Indian sides for the simple fac that they play so much negative cricket and people hate it.

  • on July 28, 2014, 23:15 GMT

    Having watched the game on last 4 days at the SSC with the privilege of having TV in front of me except on the 4th day of the match these are my observations. Sri Lanka quite rightly went into this match with 3 spinners and 1 frontline paceman combination. However, Ajantha Mendis was woefully disappointing. It is true that he beat the bat on occasion with some beauties on day 5. But these are high quality batsmen and one needs to do that on a much regular basis to extract due rewards. In addition, he failed to maintain pressure for the two other spinners by the way of failing to bowl enough number of maiden overs. I defend Angelo for not trying out Lakmal long enough for him to get some reverse swing to trouble SA batsmen. The threat of rain was there throughout the last day. As such, bowling maximum number of overs was the priority. The major problem with SL batting was middle order. Once they rectified that even though partly through Dickwella, you can see the difference it made.

  • legfinedeep on July 28, 2014, 23:01 GMT

    A draw is still a result. And it was a result that SA very strategically and purposefully aimed for. Amla was 100% right when he said that the two tests were mirror images of each other. The difference is that SL got carried away and went for the win, even though the possibility was remote and it would have needed an effort of historic proportions. Teenagers think they are invincible, more mature adults realize the extent of the limitations and play within that. SA played mature and intelligent cricket. If SL players went about their second innings with the level-headed intention to block and not play shots, they might have carved out a draw. I like the comment by BuddyCry who said SA put a huge price on loss. When they can't win, they make darned sure that they can't lose either. They have tremendous fighting spirit and you really have to work hard to earn 20 of their wickets, right down to the tail.

  • dunger.bob on July 28, 2014, 22:54 GMT

    Congrats South Africa. Well done. As an Aussie it hurts to lose the #1 spot but I have to admit you deserve it - for now. We'll be coming to get you of course so enjoy it but don't take it for granted.

  • on July 28, 2014, 22:25 GMT

    While congratulating RSA on their courageous performance, I must stress that the rain made their life much easier. More than the number of overs lost, the rain stopped the pitch from deteriorating further and in fact even made it better for batting. It was very clear that the fizz the SL spinners got on 4th evening wasn't thereon the entire 5th day.

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 22:19 GMT

    Test Cricket witnessed some wonderful super human performances...The most astonishing innings that I have seen in test cricket is Nathan Astle's fastest double century in 4th innings of the test against England...what an innings that was, clear and confident shots, even the decent bowling attack comprising Hoggard, Caddick, Giles, Flintoff went clueless, can you imagine that he hit Caddick for 45 runs in 12 balls in test cricket...if luck would have there with, if somebody stayed with him in crease,he would have single handedly win the game for his team....i wonder, nowadays when a target is over 300 runs, teams go for defensive tactics to save the game...really that innings has a wonderful message...why the coaches cant show that video when their teams chasing the big totals...SA's highest chase of 414 runs target against Aus also comes in this category...of the highest 25 chases in test cricket, 9 came after year 2000, India also chased down 387 runs total against England

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 22:15 GMT

    @Pubudu Jayawardana...mate in my comment, i did not tell Anil Kumble is great spinner...SHANE WARNE is the greatest....hope you read my comment again

  • Mervo on July 28, 2014, 21:42 GMT

    Watching over after over and day after day of SL tweakers and SA stonewalling, was such a bad look for Test cricket. It is boring, unvarying and in the end, not worth watching. Some balance is needed in wicket design and accordingly in team selection. If SL had had just one decent fast bowler, with a bit of swing or seam on the last day, they all most certainly would have won. But to watch Herath and crew flick them down for hour after hour, gave SA the advantage that they needed.

  • gahapanmachan on July 28, 2014, 21:15 GMT

    Congrats SA & also SL for playing hard yakka but decent cricket over 10 days, going to the wire.

    With more exposure, SL will put out some great battters in the coming years and the quicks will improve under Vaasy. Angelo leading from the front, wont be long before SL start beating all in their own patches.

  • on July 28, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    They were blocking from ball 1 in their first innings. Another gutless display.

  • NIPPY_89 on July 28, 2014, 20:35 GMT

    @vkias what a silly comment, lets just ignore the fact that Shane warne played cricket in Australian pitches so its statistically likely that he gets most his best performances in Australia. Even still we need to question, why doesn't he have more best bowling performances in turning pitches? Specially if its so easy for spinners to get wickets on it as you suggest?

  • on July 28, 2014, 19:19 GMT

    @vkias we appreciate your interest in sri lankan cricket even though you are a Indian. please see this stat also anil kumble average in Australia 37.73, in england 41.41, in New Zealand 40.27, in Pakistan 42.41, in Sri Lanka 44.63 , what an achievement what a great performer

  • Nuwan_Lorensuhewa on July 28, 2014, 19:02 GMT

    Well done South Africa. All the very best with your No: 1 ranking. You played admirable cricket. On the other hand we love our SL team. Well played Lions, you gave us something to cheer about. Could have gone better if a risk was taken and declared a bit earlier is my opinion. But you guys know the game, conditions than we do. But it was a nice game of Cricket. All the very best to both teams. SL fan.

  • cric1965 on July 28, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Mathew should have declared earlier due to bad weather prediction. Loosing 2-0 or 1-0 does not make much difference because you loose anyway. But if Mathew declared around 300 runs target South Africa could have tried to chase. By the way they will loose few early wickets. Then they will go for defensive approach. Might earn a victory for Sri Lanka. Mahela and Sanga called Mathew to declare early which we saw in telecast. Mathew should be brave to take risk as a captain. You will be successful 9 out of 10 times if you give 300+target in subcontinent turning pitches. If you are too defensive it is hard to win test matches against quality teams.

  • jb633 on July 28, 2014, 18:43 GMT

    @Tommytucker, Sri Lanka are a very average side and their spinners are very average. They have ridden on the wave of beating an atrocious England side but SA are a class above and could beat them in any conditions. I like Herath as a spinner but lets be honest, imagine Murali on a day 5 pitch against Philander and co. They would have no chance. Mendis for me has been worked out for 4 or 5 years and can't bamboozle class players like Amla or AB. I feel SL missed a trick by bowling Lakmal so little who can get the ball to reverse. When the spin was being blunted surely they needed a plan B. IMO SA are still the best side on the planet, they were outgunned by MJ at home but on balance they have more tools than Aus to win series in various conditions. A very dull test match bar the last session and a deserved win by the proteas. SL should not let a win against a woeful England side mask the fact they have big issues they need to deal with right now.

  • Chris_P on July 28, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    Who cares about the runs, this was tough test cricket & well done to the Saffers. I have no issue with you being #1, it gives us extra incentive to improve. No problem with the pitch either, it spun yes, but it was no minefield nor substandard.

  • on July 28, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    Another fine day in the history of test cricket. hats off for the efforts of both teams. But in the end the real credit goes to the last pair that stood like a rock in front of great spin bowling in a test cricket pressure. Congratulations to Hashim Amla to have restarted the South African natural wins.

  • ZkAneela on July 28, 2014, 18:31 GMT

    SA need only a decent spinner to beat every team in their own backyard.I think that ruthlessness to only win not draw is just a spinner away.

  • Greatest_Game on July 28, 2014, 18:27 GMT

    Sri Lanka & South Africa play cricket in dissimilar home conditions, on differing pitches. Neither is 'better,' 'more sporting,' or 'bad.' Their pitches shape the nature of their cricket, & their bowling & batting strengths reflect this.

    Each is disadvantaged on surfaces unsuited to them. To compete they must limit their weaknesses & counter the other's strengths. In the 1st 4 matches of this tour the toss winner batted 1st, & won. In the 2nd test, SL won the toss & was well on top, but could not overcome SA's defensive strategy, could not BEAT SA.

    Test cricket has 3 equally valid results: win, loss or draw. Those decrying SA's defensive strategy must admit it SUCCEEDED: it overcame SL's DOUBLE advantage of home conditions & toss win, achieved a VALID test result, & won them the series.

    Winning is not always pretty & exciting, but SA's draw WAS a win, a SERIES win, & a remarkably difficult achievement. Few, if any, teams could have done it.

    That is why SA ARE the true no.1.

  • SurlyCynic on July 28, 2014, 18:24 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx: When you say SA "haven't won a lot" away in the last 8 years - have you actually checked or is this just something you suspect?

    In this period SA have won series twice in Australia, twice in England as well as winning in SL (now), Pakistan, New Zealand and WI. The only team they haven't beaten away recently is India, since winning there in 2000 SA have drawn all the other series in India I think.

    So how is that a "misleading" stat? It is a superb away record by any standards.

  • proteasfire on July 28, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    Full credit to Sri Lankan spinners for the way they fought throughout the whole test. SA played for draw right from day 3 since they were going into this test with a 1-0 lead. Sri Lanka threw everything in their armoury to level the series but SA managed to achieve what they wanted. Draw in this test and their #1 ranking. Kudos to Proteas for that and Amla wouldnt expected a better start. To win a test series in a country after 21 years. Lot of positives for SA out of this tour. They won both ODI and Test series and a great start to the preparation for next year's WC. Still they have long way to go interms of consistency in ODIs and their trouble chasing scores over 250. At the moment they can enjoy their victorious tour before more stern assignments against Australia later.

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    murali's top performance is tests....51/9 (kandy), 65/9 (the Oval), 46/8 (kandy), 70/8 (nottingham), 87/8 (Colombo), 46/7 (Galle), 84/7 (Galle), 94/7 (Kandy), 97/7 (Colombo), 100/7 (Delhi)....so out of ten performances, 7 came in SL's turning tracks...

    Warne's top performance is tests....71/8 (Brisbane), 23/7 (Brisbane), 52/7 (Melbourne), 56/7 (Sydney), 94/7 (Colombo), 165/7 (the oval), 31/6 (Hobart), 33/6 (nottingham), 34/6 (Sydney), 46/6 (Birmingham)...out of ten performances, 9 came in fast and bouncy pitches, which wont assist spin bowling....

    Source: cricinfo.com unarguably SHANE WARNE is the BEST spin bowler in test cricket, way ahead than Murali

  • on July 28, 2014, 17:52 GMT

    they deserved the no1 status with a fighting agnst lion at its den

  • SLMaster on July 28, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    If the fast bowlers are bowling four overs they could have include Malinga in the test....It could have been surprise element for SA.

  • Proudly_SA.47 on July 28, 2014, 17:19 GMT

    To us true TEST Cricket lovers that was some very exciting cricket. Very competitive series it's been. I wouldn't have preferred it any other way. Well done Proteas! #No.1 Thank you Sri Lanka for a very awesome contest. We in South Africa have always had a lot of respect for you.

  • slazenger on July 28, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    We lost to a good side so stop comparing, stop complaining and STOP and take a break at this point. Take a stock of what happened, Identify the players who can deliver for SL in the longer run, Identify the new comers like Dilruwan and Niroshan and most importantly I think we need good breaks between tours to best position ourselves to face the opposition. That's what SA really did in this tour. They had a good plan (To beat SL in SL) and thay had a good break before the SL tour and at the same time our guys are tire of playing cricket continuously for the last six months.

  • on July 28, 2014, 16:54 GMT

    The title is misleading. I thought it meant that South Africa blocked their path to becoming No.1...

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 28, 2014, 16:48 GMT

    Interesting point a Sri Lankan fan raised about the Sri Lankan spinners. Herath and Perera have been getting lots of praise and plaudits for their efforts. However, Perera on a turning dust-bowl track bowled 246 deliveries in the final innings on day 4 & 5 of a turning wicket and only got 3 wickets. That's a strike rate of 88....not great.

    I feel with a wicket like that, which started to break up and spin square from Day 2. Two quality bowlers should be able to ripp through the SA line up in 112 overs.

  • Rohit... on July 28, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    Love You South Africans...

  • on July 28, 2014, 16:47 GMT

    why didnt we declare much earlier? All the talk about we would go for the win at the risk of 2-0, and yet we set an impossible target.we could have set about 275. This is not the first time we've declared too late and run out of time to bowl the opposition

  • slazenger on July 28, 2014, 16:42 GMT

    It is ok to lost the series to a good side like SA. We have the fighting ability and we almost got twenty wickets but luck was not in our side this time and don't expect to be in our side always. In England luck was on our side in both test matches but in the SA last match it was not our side. GALLE and SSC are tracks capable of producing results If you have good bowlers like Dale/johnson/ or good spinners.

  • GermanPlayer on July 28, 2014, 16:37 GMT

    @Arthur The fact that SA do what they do without a good spinner is a great achievement. Yet their fast battery is not the same as WI had.

    Also, times have changed. You can't compare teams just 10 years old coz cricket has changed...

  • xtrafalgarx on July 28, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    I respect the South Africans. To their credit, they have never really ever been a weak side for as long as I can remember - they have always put up stiff competition, and that it testament to their character. However, they are not ruthless winners and I don't see them ever being such a team. While they haven't lost an away series away from home in 8 years, they haven't WON a lot either. That's a very misleading stat.

    They probably didn't deserve to have their no.1 ranking taken as it was, so it's fair enough they have won it back. However, i doubt it will be for long. It has always been my suspicion that SA were no.1 by default. They were the only team that was still functioning at the level that teams were going at 10 years ago, while Australia, India and even England to a minor extent dropped in standards. Now however, the boys are back in town and i think SA will go back to being the tough scrappers - but not the front runner.

  • Sentula on July 28, 2014, 16:14 GMT

    Well Arthur your Aussies was not captained by Ponting in the 90' but by Taylor and Waugh, they could not even beat weak Windies in 99, where Brian Lara single handedly destroyed Warne & Mcgrath and Healy retired.. SAFFAS unbeaten for 8 years away from home..go figure

  • SLMaster on July 28, 2014, 16:04 GMT

    Credit should be given to SL in this match. Cogratulation to SL not SA....Well done SL.

  • on July 28, 2014, 15:58 GMT

    Look people stop comparing the SA team to the great WI and Aus teams as those two teams were freak teams in history and we will never see teams as strong as that again. I'm a Aussie but respect how tough this SA team are and have been for a while now so they are number 1 at the moment and well done. It's great for cricket as South Africa know Australia will always be chasing them in a close second or even taking it back as who knows what will happen down the line and that's what makes TEST CRICKET the best as a SA v AUS series is like a heavyweight boxers battering each other for 13 rounds.

  • NP_NY on July 28, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    @Philip Botha: How is a day full of spinners landing the ball in the rough "proper cricket"? Sure, SA blocked their way to a draw valiantly. But I wouldn't call this match a good example for test cricket.

  • ZkAneela on July 28, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    I m a huge huge fan of AB de villiers since 2007.I know that he is world no.1 in tests for quite a time now but still I am doubting his technique when playing ultra defensive in match saving conditions.I believe most of the time He is probing to the balls outside off and most of the time He is neither forward nor backward for the balls which He must play on front foot.I remember his dismissal in adelaide test when He face 220 balls but got out same way and also in last test against Australia when SA were saving the game on last day, AB fell to Harris probing outside off neither back nor frontfoot.This may be due to A. He is not a kind of a player who should play ultra defensive cricket. B.He has weak technique. Well to be honest I am agree to my point A, as I believe He should play positively in any conditions as it is his natural game.

  • Arthur on July 28, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    SA is not a complete team like the West Indies were in 80-95; so let's please put that matter to bed. An unfair comparison to say the least. SA do indeed lack attacking nous in the batting and they depend and believe so much in their strike bowlers that they are able to strangle the opposition and dictate up front, no matter how slowly they bat. Though they have in recent years snaffled draws of Herculean proportions, like today's result often 8 or nine wickets down. Why are they having to fight to save more than they can win? Not a complete team; they rely on a few stars only and hence can afford to carry players like Elgar, Petersen, Tahir etc. So please don't compare them to the West Indies invincibles and even the Aussies under Ponting in the 90s!

  • jimmyvida on July 28, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    What a disappointment. We prepared a dust bowl and still could not win.

  • cjchanaka on July 28, 2014, 15:38 GMT

    Most are questioning the quality of our spinners after this match.But you have to remember herath & dilli are not murali or warne.They have no magic deliveries.Both are orthodox spinners.But they showed huge tempo,courage and accuracy.Both got wickets with patience.That is the way spinners do get wickets in tests.We did not see that patience from tahir,simply because of he is not a quality test spinner.He did try to get a wicket from every ball.So I think both herath & dilli did excellent job by complementing each other.The real problem was the lack of support from other two bowlers.Mendis did prove that he is no longer suit for tests. I think our bowling combination should be 2 spinners & 2 seamers.GOOD LUCK FOR PAK SERIES.......

  • Sinhaya on July 28, 2014, 15:38 GMT

    No one can say that SL bowling attack is weak. Herath has the most number of wicket halls in tests going back from 2008 till date.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;orderby=five_wickets;spanmin1=01+Jan+2008;spanval1=span;template=results;type=bowling

    Herath having 18 5 wicket hauls in tests is the best among all and is above Steyn. Well done Herath you are awesome!

  • on July 28, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    Congrats to SA for winning the series but as fan I can't judge much on their tactics of being defensive from their first innings after a big but average first innings score by SL. With under performing opening order especially Petersen the solution was to be defensive, maybe in Smith era we would have seen something different in the first innings due to his courage and then second innings marathon of blocking. For SA to remain on top Peterson and Tahir must go

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 15:31 GMT

    just checked the record section in cricinfo...MJ scored 34 centuries in tests...in that 25 in SL...in this 25 centuries 12 are in same ground...what kind of record it is..im confused

  • Vilander on July 28, 2014, 15:24 GMT

    SA deserved no 1. Awesome display beating SL in a home series both in ODI and Tests is a good display from SA.

  • Hanumall on July 28, 2014, 15:13 GMT

    MOM choice baffling. Having led a valiant team fightback from the front, having scored 165 invaluable runs under great pressure and having faced 540 balls in the match, Hashim Amla is not the MOM?

  • on July 28, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    I think Mathews was late to declare the innings otherwise result could be different.Mathews lacks the greatness of big captain because of his defensive nature ,he uselessly lost PAK vs SRI last test and allowed Pak to chase of 300 plus target within two session due to his bad defensive tactics and same case here when u know the weather is reluctant to complete full day's play so then y u not being aggressive and take chances ????? He needs to learn else he might prove a good test player for srilanka but not as test captain that may suffer SRILANK mangement and supporters as well.

  • HateCritics on July 28, 2014, 15:11 GMT

    kudos to SA. IMO hashim should have been MOM. only this guy showed immense responsibilities and have been acting according to the plan from the first ball.Looked like he knew its gonna happen. I wont call southafrican's tactic defensive rather it was a realistic and clever approach! awesome saffas!

  • on July 28, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    Totally agree with you, Philip Botha!

  • on July 28, 2014, 15:06 GMT

    This is a game of attitude and strong mentality. In the first test SA gave a similar target to SL and SL was on a strong position at the end of Day-4 but could not save or win the match. Vis versa SA was given with the target and at the end of Day-4, not sitting pretty but was able to survive day 5 and drew the match. Hence SA is deserved to be in the top of the test cricket.

  • KerneelsMerkII on July 28, 2014, 15:05 GMT

    As an aside - what a great photo! As a SAFFA, I will miss Sanga and Mahela.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    Amla .... well played and good captaincy.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    If you appreciate cricket, proper cricket, you would have loved every minute of the final day. If you want runs go watch T20.

  • DilumSL on July 28, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    Another great game of test cricket. SA deserve to be in NO 1. Even the rain helped them I don't think any other would have survive on this track. Hard luck SL. But not ashamed of this loss. We fought hard most of the team members do their job. Still selection not the perfect. Good luck on PAK series

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    My prediction came true...im very happy for that...yesterday only i predicted the draw of the test and series won by SA 1-0....congratulations SA to regain the most coveted number 1 ranking in tests...my second best team in the world, truly deserved for that...Even after bowling 111 overs (with 94 overs in last day alone) in spinners paradise, SL did not take their 10 wickets...tells the quality of the attack...Philanders knock was crucial...he SHOULD BE in team...but SA should sort out the problems of openers...and should groom Duminy as the main spinner just like Moin Ali of England...

  • Sehwag3rd300 on July 28, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    similar to the adelaide test where australia scored 482 on the first day and then south africa scored 248/8 in 148 overs

  • mgdk on July 28, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    Hashim Amla should have been Man of the Match. He played 90 OVERS in this match that means one complete test day. Probably the umpires tried to show a sympathy to Mahela. Whatever Saffa played really good as they survived 111 overs. Tahir and petersen should be dropped as they produced nothing in this match. Saffa would not be in a crucial situation in this test if this two could play some good cricket. WINNING BOTH TEST AND ONEDAY SERIES ON SRILANKA SOIL IS REALLY A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT FOR SAFFA. CONGRATULATION!!!

  • BellCurve on July 28, 2014, 14:40 GMT

    In his last 16 Tests, Philander averaged 36.80 with the bat and 25.47 with the ball. That is Keith Miller / Imran Khan territory. His contribution to this SA side is immense. He is becoming a genuine all-rounder.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 28, 2014, 14:39 GMT

    @Jamie Moneghan Couldn't agree more. 4 or 5 matches series should be the minimum Test between Aus and SA. Besides it brings the best out of the players from both teams and its a great spectacle of the game we love.

  • Sentula on July 28, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    Well done SAFFERS, Australia has indeed lost a Test series in Sri Lanka in 1999 1-0, when Steve Waugh and Gillespie collided, and both were injured, so they were never invincible even with their Great side back then, their away record in 90's and 2000's were not that great either as they lost to their nemesis India and the 2005 Ashes..

  • Proteas_Supporter on July 28, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    Adelaide, Jo'Burg & now Colombo. but this was a hard fought Draw! Not easy to bat on this sort of surface against three spinners. Kudos to both the teams. Philander after a humongous flop with the ball in Tests, played two invaluable inns' (27 off 96 in the 1st Test where he shared a 75 runs partnership with JP & 27* off 98 in this Test) in this series. He is quickly becoming a decent/useful lower order bat.

    Great Tour for the Saffers on the whole, winning both ODI & Test Series'. The only blip was Philander's naughty act during the 1st Test, otherwise the series' were played in very good spirit.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:35 GMT

    To Fazald - Australia have indeed lost to Sri Lanka. It was in 1999, the series in which Steve Waugh and Matthew Elliott collided. How has South Africa displaced Australia you ask? Well, in the last 18 months Australia has lost 3 test series.' South Africa has lost 2 in 8 years. That's how.

    To those bagging SA for not being aggressive enough, they have a higher winning percentage than the West Indies team of 80-95. We tend to forget how often tests were drawn in the past. And for everyone banging on about them being defined by a couple of draws, there is someone else who will remember them for the 400 chase in Perth, Amla and ABDV destroying Australia at Perth on the next tour, winning a test after being bowled out for 90, steyn's 7-fer at Nagpur or wherever it was. Learn to appreciate the quality they're producing.

  • KerneelsMerkII on July 28, 2014, 14:30 GMT

    Geez - 27 overs with only 10 deliveries to leave alone. That is astounding accuracy by the SL spinners - Herath in particular. Also shows great commitment.

    The the Aussie team of the 90s is remembered for showing the world that run rates of 4 or 4.5 are achievable (and leads to victories) then this SA team will be remembered for showing the world what is possible to survive from the jaws of defeat. Fantastic commitment and great character shown.

    Very good series win for South Africa and well deserved of their number 1 status in the game.

  • Cricket_Addict_151507 on July 28, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    This game is such a leveler. After the highs of England, winning all three formats here you go... losing in both the formats AT HOME. Must be painful for the fans, it takes a little bit of sheen away from a great year that the Lankans have had so far. Maybe t he Lankan spinners are not as great as the fans make them out to be, home conditions squandered against a side that carries the label of being average players of spin. Also remember, with aging legends around, tough days bekon Sri Lankan cricket, it could be as gloomy as most part of the day today was. Do the fans have it in them to burry thier pride and offer unwavering support, do the fans have it in them to grind it along? Only time would say.

  • cric1965 on July 28, 2014, 14:26 GMT

    Sri Lanka gave 129 overs. But they lost 22 overs due to bad weather. What will happen if they bowl those 22 overs? South Africa lost 7 wickets in day5. out of that 4 wickets lost in final session. Considering MENDIS, his future in test cricket is bleak. He has to develop new deliveries to survive. If Sri Lanka win toss and bat first in Galle what will be the final result? Has their tactics backfire in Galle after loosing toss? Tharanga,s selection is good. He should include in one day team as a middle order batsman not as a opener due to his traditional failure to face in moving away balls. Chandimal and Thirimanna also responsible for the loss in Galle. Team selection also poor in Sri Lanka. They have to review the results and must take relevant action to improve. Dickwella should select for one day team. He is scoring runs rapidly. Dilruwan took 16 wickets. He is the new discovery from this series.

  • Proudly_SA.47 on July 28, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    @fazaldon.. "How come South Africa has displaced Australia to claim the number one ranking in tests when they lost to the aussies 2-1 in the recent test series in South Africa? Unlike South Africa Australia has never lost a test series to Sri Lanka either at home or away in 30 years." Hahahah can you be any more ignorant when the facts are so obvious. SA hasn't lost an away series in 8 years and they have just about played in all the top cricket playing nations, in that time they have won against Australia in Australia TWICE, they won against England in England and shot to number 1 and they haven't lost that title until recently when Aus mysteriously went ahead of SA without either team playing a bowl. Very strange considering that after that SA vs Aus series SA were still comfortably ahead. In that series it was only SA first loss in 14 test series'!!! What more could you ask from a team man?! Australia on the other hand have just won 2 series and haven't won away from home in 2 years before the closely contested series against SA (I stand corrected on that one).. And we are talking about recent cricket here, we're not talking about 30years ago. I think you are confused, no one said this SA team were the greatest team ever, but they have been the best team in the last 2-3years regarding Tests. I don't know what more they have to do to earn the respect they deserve from the world.. Tell me if you'd rather have a team that would have gone for over 8 an over in this match and were bowled all out for under 200 and in the process ruining their brilliant 1st win and a chance to make history and regain the no1 spot which they so rightly deserve?.. Or would go for safety 1st knowing that the pitch is detorioting and your are up against a very good spin attack and don't have much players in the team that play proper spin well. There's no doubt SA were outplayed in the 2nd test but isn't that what test cricket is about, is that what the best team does? When you are in a losing position you do whatever it takes not to lose the game. In this case a draw was a victory for SA and they did very well to hold on.

  • BuddyCry on July 28, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    One thing South Africa do well is put a huge price on a loss. Its never easy to beat them, props to Sri Lanka for coming oh so close.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    Rain saved the game for South Africa, well done lions, you gave everything!

  • xylo on July 28, 2014, 14:20 GMT

    And this is why test cricket continues to die - playing for draws rather than wins. For me, SL was the winner in this series.

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 14:19 GMT

    My prediction came true...im very happy for that...yesterday only i predicted the draw of the test and series won by SA 1-0....congratulations SA to regain the most coveted number 1 ranking in tests...my second best team in the world, truly deserved for that...Even after bowling 111 overs (with 94 overs in last day alone) in spinners paradise, SL did not take their 10 wickets...tells the quality of the attack...Philanders knock was crucial...he SHOULD BE in team...but SA should sort out the problems of openers...and should groom Duminy as the main spinner just like Moin Ali of England...

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:18 GMT

    Though SA was playing just for a Draw, SL should have played as if needed victory. More risks would have taken. Should have checked the Weather forecast. Nowadays you can check weather pretty in advance. Then declared little earlier. Also should have tried more tactics, specially when tailenders were in. They dont deserve to win either.

  • chandimasl on July 28, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    Well done SA for wining the test. It is sad that we couldn't win in this spin friendly pitch. The rain factor was disappointing.

    This is another good lesson for the selectors for not selecting a balanced team. I cant understand why Mendis is getting so many chances even when he struggling against quality team. Tharindu Kaushal and Malinda Pushpakumara is overlooked many occassions.

    The chief selector seems doesn't like to introduce new players who have talent.As far as these blunders are happened in SL cricket we will have these kind of heart breaking results.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:14 GMT

    This is why SA have to play Australia more with more tests as both sides are miles and miles ahead of the rest , and should be every other year for atleast 3 tests but ideally a 5 match series as that would be brutally hard fought cricket. It's great for cricket as now both SA and Aus will be on their toes trying to fight over for number 1.

  • BellCurve on July 28, 2014, 14:12 GMT

    As predicted before the series, Big Vern did not take many wickets, but delivered with the bat. Also, as predicted a few months ago, his batting average is heading for 30 and his bolwing average for 25. Big Vern is currently the best all-rounder in Test cricket. If he continues like this for another 5 years and plays another 50 Tests, he will rank among the greats. What he needs now is a couple of good centuries. Zimbabwe would be a good place to start.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:07 GMT

    If your bowlers cannot take 10 wickets in the last innings of a test they do not deserve to win the test. That is what separate the Proteas from the rest, They have the ability to bat for 100+ over to save a test match, that shows character and how good they can be with their backs against the wall. The Proteas have lost only 1 test series in the last 6 years and somehow they got pushed downed to 2nd by an Ausie team who's test results have been poor prior to the Ashes.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    It was a well deserved and hard fought series win for the Proteas. congrats to them.

  • on July 28, 2014, 14:03 GMT

    Congratulations South Africa. You deserve the no 1 position.

  • rajcan on July 28, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    SL does not have penetrating ballers. There was no balling change. Herath and Perera was balling, Duminy and Amla used up most of the overs.

    Lakmal wasn't used to try some bouncers, no surprises for batsman,

    It was a boring cricket, even if the overs are lot lost, SL would not have won the game without giving pressure to batsmen.

  • anoop3301 on July 28, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    The series gives a reality check to the SL team. Of course, when a team gets more than 110 overs on a turner to bowl out an opposition on a customized home pitch and fails to do so, it show how much of a fluke this team is. As for SA, well played. You truly deserved this victory even though it came against one of the weakest teams going around.

  • JohannK on July 28, 2014, 13:55 GMT

    For those calling for Philander's head: 1) several dropped catches from his bowling 2) batsmen playing and missing 3) his discipline meant he kept the pressure up to help Steyn and Morkel get wickets 4) he faced the second highest number of balls in the second innings to help SA draw the match and take the series What a player!!! Congrats to SA for deservedly retaking the no 1 ranking. Now let's hope the Big Three give SA enough test matches against quality opposition to help show why this team is so good.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on July 28, 2014, 13:52 GMT

    Congratulations South Africa. I heard Imran Tahir was very amusing throughout much of the game; wish I could have seen that. Valiant effort by both teams.

  • SurlyCynic on July 28, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    Well done to both teams, that was very tense. Could hardly watch the last session.

    Some criticism on here about SA going for the draw in this test but after losing the toss and having to bat last on a pitch that was crumbling on day 1, against 3 good spinners... well a draw was a good result and SA were already up in the series.

    I think the games were mostly played in a good spirit too, there is usually mutual respect between SA and SL teams and fans.

    SL were unlucky with the rain but 120 overs should have been enough on that pitch. Vern saved us, with some other solid contributions. Petersen and Tahir should be moved on now.

  • on July 28, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    I seriously thought Sri Lanka deserved to win here but well we all know how the s.africans fight till the last ball, home/away! , and plus the weather .This will hurt srilankans as they are not a young side but a very set side and playing at home..and after that brilliant win in England (I guess they won all 3..t20,odi and tests?). Like I say, this game is one sport where you cant be sure about the next game..whether you are in form or not, whether you are at home/away. Never should judge anyone before its over! I feel real bad for the game when I think one by one all the familiar faces fading away…next in that list and another painful sight would be when Mahela bids farewell…just so hard to see that,loved everything about him…shots like cutting butter, captaincy, spirit, intelligence and the way he carried himself even in despair..so many losses in finals and yet he kept a brave face/attitude.

  • social_monster09 on July 28, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    Well played both teams esp. Lanka. Both Herath & Perera did their best, but well played Philander that's why you are in team. Incredible test match just as Aus vs SA in March'14. Congratulations SA to reach the top of the table. As an Aussie i am sad but SA deserve to be no. 1. But we try our best to regain our no.1 spot till the end of the year & we sure achieve that title. But that's not mean, SA is really a team to beat. 8 years & unbeaten in abroad is remarkable. I appreciate.

  • lalit.naik on July 28, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    very sad to see a subcontinent team could not get SA out after bowling 111 overs on a tailor made turning pitch at home......well SAs are known to be the most venerable team against spin......but simultaneously SL is also a ordinary team now...what will happen to them after Sanga and Mahela....I think every team will come and whitewash them at home

  • sl_supporter on July 28, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    Pathetic team selection from Sri Lanka. Mendis is not a test match bowler and demoed it here very well. SL cricket wont have a future in test cricket and even in one day cricket by stacking their team with spin bowlers and producing slow pitches. They need to have a balanced team. Steyn showed what a quality bowler can do on any surface. SL batman's weakness to play bouncing, short pitched balls were quite evident and they will struggle even more when they play in countries such as SA and Australia. Need a foreign coach at least until 2015 world cup. Give Mr Whatmore another chance at least till 2015 world cup or SL cricket will struggle even more!

  • yogicoolboy on July 28, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    well played south Africa.

  • ram4crictheory on July 28, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    My comment on the article "SL seek turnaround on sleepy SSC pitch" under fb ID Ramreddy is what I described this SA team.

    Congratulations on saving the test and winning the series SA, but I am depressed a bit to see a team resigning to save the test once SL scored 400+ in the first innings. Look at Amla's innings in the first innings, it should have given us the clear picture what SA is up to this test match.

    Being a test No.1 team on the records doesn't make the team No. 1. With all due respect to all the teams who attained No.1 spot in record books were never No.1 team, except for WI and Australia.

    Hope SA will play on like a champion at least from here on to to give the respect for that No.1 tag in record books.

  • on July 28, 2014, 13:40 GMT

    There are numbers and numbers - SA on top again & good luck to them, but that may see-saw if Aus win their next series. Next real test would be SA in Australia. Don't find going for the draw from day 2 on appealing though - the side has more talent than that.

  • on July 28, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    Its obvious from SA's final score that SL were over cautious. Considering the state of the pitch,the weather and their bowling resources they could have declared after a lead of around 320. This was all the more important as they would have lost the series even if the runs had been scored.

  • NP_NY on July 28, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    One team bowls 107 overs of spin (out of 111) in the final innings of the test match. The other team has one goal - to defend their way to a draw. If this is not a terrible advertisement for test cricket, I don't know what is. No problem with the Saffers, they had to block their way to win the series and were brave enough to do that. SL on the other hand...first the curator makes a pitch that becomes a complete dust bowl on day 5, and then SL bowls their spinners to death, appealing even for bump ball catches. Even club cricket spinners can take 10 wickets on this kind of pitches (which SL spinners failed to do). Well done SA!

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on July 28, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    Some good cricket in this mini-series (where are the other matches?) with SA trying to cover the loss of a couple of champions against a hot Lankan team fresh from away wins in all three formats.

    Congratulations to the Saffers on taking number one in the see-saw battle at the top of the rankings.

  • VinodGupte on July 28, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    congrats SA. a team truly deserving of #1 ranking. they need to get their top order right pronto. that is the only weak link in their setup.

  • letsgoproteas on July 28, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    Protea's haven't lost an away series in 8 years! 8 YEARS!

    That's another level of brilliant.

    Considering that - someone please explain how ridiculous the points system is with australia so close having won only 2 series recently and their poor showings before that?

  • Lion_96 on July 28, 2014, 13:22 GMT

    Congrats South Africa. There bastmen have really stood out on this tour, right from the One Dayers. As far as this Test Match is concerned, well, I honestly felt that Mathews should have declared when the lead crossed 300. With rain and SAF propensity to bat long periods for draws, surely he should have given his bowlers 300 and 130 overs to bowl at. Going by their 1st Inns, SAF were never gonna chase a target of any note in their 2nd Inns. Add the weather, and who knows, Sri Lanka could have finished it off (again, why are we having 2 Test Series?). And Imran Tahir sure is entertaining. Cant bowl that much, but can get them cramps on the 2nd last over of Test Match on Day 5. Now imagine if a Sri Lankan Tailender did that? There would outrage.

  • JaranNirsi on July 28, 2014, 13:22 GMT

    SA are the No 1 team in the world, deservedly. But the report heading says it all: they have blocked their way to the top. Despite their supremely talented team, they will sadly be defined by Joburg, Adelaide, and Colombo. As escape artists more than dominant champions. For that, the Aussies take the cake: unmitigated aggression, and an unrelenting desire to win. On one hand a team that will avoid losing at all costs, and on the other a team that will take any risk to win. Take your pick. The others simply don't count. Not yet, anyway.

  • fazald on July 28, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    How come South Africa has displaced Australia to claim the number one ranking in tests when they lost to the aussies 2-1 in the recent test series in South Africa? Unlike South Africa Australia has never lost a test series to Sri Lanka either at home or away in 30 years. Muralidaran never had much success against the aussies on spin friendly conditions in Sri Lanka. South Africa's weakness against good spin bowling was thoroughly exposed in this test series against Sri Lanka. This is the second time in three years that they have managed to save a match from the jaws of defeat first against Australia in Adelaide and now against Sri Lanka. at the SSC.

  • No.444 on July 28, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    Well done SA. Lucky with the rain but did well to survive 111 overs. Not many teams would have that much fight. Thrilling draw and edge of the seat stuff. Better than any run fest. 10 men round the bat and 2 quality spinners operating. Fake changing gloves, cramps, complaints and frustration by the fielding team, umpire's patience getting pushed to the wire. Brilliant. The 6 run an over brigade sure do miss out on a lot of the subtleties and nuances of test cricket that are missing from the shorter versions. They are poorer for it.

    This was a good wicket. Well done to the groundsman. Without the rain we may have seen 38 wickets and a result. Matthews can learn from the risky declaration by Amla in the first test. He was too conservative and cost him the game in hindsight. Looked like he was schooled in the Saffa school of captaincy. Amla bunked those classes.

  • on July 28, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    congratulation SA for being to the top of the version. All credit to Sl team in their 2nd test. Also one thing to remind SA that in the world cup tournament its not allowed half pitch and bouncer for all 6 deliveries in one over and your cup won today is deserved by Imran Thahir.

  • MiddleStump on July 28, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    Not a good performance by Sri Lanka. They failed to bowl out a team on the fifth day on a turner at home. Herath and Perera may seem to have bowled well. But 5 wickets in 45 overs (Herath) and 3 in 44 overs (Perera) indicate a poor strike rate when batsmen were blocking everything and not looking to score runs. The SL batsmen did well. Credit to SA for batting out 91 overs.

  • SuperSharky on July 28, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    A Series win in Sri Lanka for South Africa is an unusual great feeling. It doesn't happen a lot in 1 lifetime. This was a brilliant series. In this second Test, it was hard to see a draw after Mahela scored 165 & Sri Lanka 421. And knowing that the pitch will behave like a snakepit on the 5th day, with lethal spinners like Perera & Herath & co. This was another great escape for the Proteas with a little bit of help from the rain. It was a really close match and the draw result slipped in the backdoor while Sri Lanka was on their way to victory. Brilliant cricket !!!!

  • neo-galactico on July 28, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    Pheww! One word "relief" nerves were getting shot in the final hour which started with the last specialist batsman JP getting out. Once again they show tremendous character to just bat out a day. Sure the rain helped but playing 111 overs against top class spin bowlers on that pitch is commendable. The series win ranks above the no. 1 ranking for mine. Now it's up to the Aussies to win against Pak in the UAE to reclaim the Test Mace. Hash batted like a monk. And Vern showed why he's the no. 1 All rounder.

  • on July 28, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    Superb result. Delighted that Sri Lanka have been beaten AT HOME by South Africa.

  • on July 28, 2014, 13:00 GMT

    Well done Proteas! Well done Hash - winning your first series as captain! SA deserve the no. 1 spot! True champions!

  • on July 28, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    well done boys. but how philander faces is able to face more balls than any other batsmen except for amla...others have to improve. elgar,petersen

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 28, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    Great performance by South Africa, as touring Sri Lanka and winning is one of the most difficult accomplishments.

    South Africa now go to No.1 in the world, where they should be - on top of Australia. Agree with JohannK comment, Tahir and Petersen need to be dropped so the team can get even stronger.

  • on July 28, 2014, 12:58 GMT

    Hashim Amla should have been MOM .. Congratulations SA

  • Great_Lion on July 28, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    boy... this bunch of south african players are the luckiest among the all generations of saffas. because, 1. They won the toss many times 2.There golden arm bowler mr. ryan maclaren who just give the edge for saffas 3.shaminda eranga injured in day 1 in the first day (I don't want to mention philander's tactics) 4.all the time umpiring is with the saffas 5.finally rain is saved them. I don't complaining as a sri lankan.I am really happy they have some luck.Because that's the thing they missed so much.

  • KingOwl on July 28, 2014, 12:54 GMT

    Congratulations to SA. Fully deserving #1. Undoubtedly a more talented team than Australia. But feel gutted for SL. They came close. But couldn't finish the job. That is the nature of cricket. I am sure SL will take it on the chin and move forward.

  • Supa_SAFFA on July 28, 2014, 12:45 GMT

    Spare a thought for Michael Clarke. No Aussie captain has led a number 1 test team onto the field in more than 5 years. And that is not about to change just yet.

  • on July 28, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    well done to both teams. Sa beed to sort out the issue when facing good spinners. was may be boring but Amla had a game plan and done well. Sri Lanka down to earth now. Sa need to improve but destroyed sri lanka in the ODI's and one test and then take the series. well done Proteas

  • JohannK on July 28, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    NINE men saved the blushes of the selectors. Petersen and Tahir were out of their depth in this match - and was obvious from the last test match that they would be.

    Tahir's loose bowling and Petersen's dropped catch at 3rd slip gave the initiative back to SL after they lost two wickets on the first morning. I do not believe they would have got to 421 if they were 32/3 (with Jayawardene and Mathews, the last experienced pair, in as early as the 8th over) and if SA had a containing spinner (like Piedt) able to hold up and end AND quite possibly take wickets. Petersen's contribution of 2 means Van Zyl, or even another extra spinner, could not have done any worse.

    The selectors made the team look negative for their tactics, but it was unavoidable given the performances of these two passengers.

  • Seamer_Singh on July 28, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    Well done SA. Won the series without a decent spinner, on a rank turner against a side containing 3 specialist spinners! A hard fought victory and deservedly regain the #1 spot.

  • davey_boy_saffa on July 28, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    Well done SA and especially Hashim Amla, first series victory as Captain, first series as Captain...what a way to start your career as Captain of the number 1 test side in the world...great bowling by Herath and co, amazing accuracy, exposing the South African ability against good spin bowling...but kudos to SA for holding out until the end...

  • letsgoproteas on July 28, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    Back at #1 where they belong.

    Well done boys.

  • Testcricketistop on July 28, 2014, 12:39 GMT

    Proud of the boys, whether you could suggest a blockathon is entertaining or not is neither here nor there.

    To go into this match with a lead and seeing what the pitch was doing on day two always meant the Proteas were going to have to save this game.

    Thanks to interference by some rain, we managed to make it, just.

    Well done to Sri Lanka, it is always tough to tour there.

    Proteas need a more solid opening pair and someone who can accurately bowl spin.

    Not the complete package by any means.

    Great series by Morkel, very well bowled and this time getting the wickets.

  • on July 28, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    This SA team have the right spirit and more the confidence was shown today. Deserved to be No.1. Although opening pairs, De villers and spinners failed completely still managed to do a justice. On home conditions, with the likes of big names in the board still performed better than the last, At most in the final hunt but failed to achieve it. Bad luck for SL. Congrats to SA.

  • Cricketlover54 on July 28, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    Well done SA, truly are the No. 1 Test Team in the world.

    -SL fan

  • Snambidi on July 28, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    sA escaped with a draw from the Jaws of a defeat. It wasca historic draw for SA.They started playing this match with the hope of regaining the Number one position in ICC test ranking. Neither they could do that nor remain tension free throughoutbtge match with anxiety over the possibility of beating by the Srilankans in their soil. But The Captain of South Africa & the Rain God protected South Africa.a Amla,DeCock& Philander took them to safety from Humiliation.

  • on July 28, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    Great result. When last did SA win a series in Sri Lanka.

  • Basil777 on July 28, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    Well done SA they brought their best on their best pitch yet SA resolve was too muc for them

  • on July 28, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Well done SA. I am happy that SL have been beaten at their home conditions. With the best bowling attack SA deserve to be No.1 Team in the world.

  • MichaelBurton on July 28, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    In my opinion, SA is not suitable to go pass top mighty Aussies in ranking seeing how they played with lower ranked Sri Lanka. My money still with Aussie.

  • on July 28, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    Congrats SA well done you deserve to be No 1. SL can't win even on their home conditions. With a very good bowling attack SA is the best team in the world.

  • on July 28, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    rain rain go away come again another day.....

  • on July 28, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    well done sri lanka,its obvious at this stage we will not have enough overs to win it,but still good fight given by our team with second string bowlers,i know critics will say now that the late declaration cost us the match and that we played negative cricket,but i felt angelo declared at the right time sensibly and its just the bad weather cost us 40 overs wich cost us the match and the series,tough luck..

  • Welay-White-Water on July 28, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    Sun shining and it seems very hard to stop Sri Lanka cruising to victory.

  • HateCritics on July 28, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    That hamstring got the better of Amla, otherwise he would never go for that shot.anyway very well played. Other should contribute too.

  • on July 28, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    SL need Amla's wkt to put SA under pressure otherwise this test seems draw If SL wants to win this test then their bowlers will have to take wkts and level the series.

  • on July 28, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    I am hoping that South Africa DRAW this Test and WIN the series against Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka and Sangkarra/Jayawardene NEED TO BE BEATEN at home.

  • on July 28, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    Well played Hashim Amla, you are a legend

  • on July 28, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    Well played Hashim Amla, you are a legend

  • on July 28, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    I am hoping that South Africa DRAW this Test and WIN the series against Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka and Sangkarra/Jayawardene NEED TO BE BEATEN at home.

  • on July 28, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    SL need Amla's wkt to put SA under pressure otherwise this test seems draw If SL wants to win this test then their bowlers will have to take wkts and level the series.

  • HateCritics on July 28, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    That hamstring got the better of Amla, otherwise he would never go for that shot.anyway very well played. Other should contribute too.

  • Welay-White-Water on July 28, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    Sun shining and it seems very hard to stop Sri Lanka cruising to victory.

  • on July 28, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    well done sri lanka,its obvious at this stage we will not have enough overs to win it,but still good fight given by our team with second string bowlers,i know critics will say now that the late declaration cost us the match and that we played negative cricket,but i felt angelo declared at the right time sensibly and its just the bad weather cost us 40 overs wich cost us the match and the series,tough luck..

  • on July 28, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    rain rain go away come again another day.....

  • on July 28, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    Congrats SA well done you deserve to be No 1. SL can't win even on their home conditions. With a very good bowling attack SA is the best team in the world.

  • MichaelBurton on July 28, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    In my opinion, SA is not suitable to go pass top mighty Aussies in ranking seeing how they played with lower ranked Sri Lanka. My money still with Aussie.

  • on July 28, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    Well done SA. I am happy that SL have been beaten at their home conditions. With the best bowling attack SA deserve to be No.1 Team in the world.