South Africa in Sri Lanka 2014 July 29, 2014

Mathews, Perera shine bright for Sri Lanka

ESPNcricinfo marks the Sri Lankan players out of 10 following their series loss against South Africa


Dilruwan Perera
(16 wickets at 23.12)

A break out series, in which he was easily the most menacing Sri Lanka bowler on two spin-friendly tracks. There were occasional poor overs in Galle, but at the SSC, Perera's lines and lengths were impeccable. The deliveries to dismiss AB de Villiers and Vernon Philander in the first innings would have had virtually any batsman in the world in trouble. Bowled a few unplayable balls on the final day too, but did not quite have the luck. He is a nice fit for this attack's line-and-length ethos, and will perhaps learn a few more tricks through experience.

Angelo Mathews
(242 runs at 121, 1 wicket at 36)

He blocks. He bashes. He shares the strike with batsmen, and hogs it in the company of bowlers. Is there a more in-form batsman in the world right now? Sri Lanka fans used to feel the game was never lost until Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were dismissed, but increasingly, Mathews is becoming that man. At the SSC, he moved up to No. 5, which is where he wishes to bat in the future. His grip on cricket strategy continues to improve. The only criticism you might level is that the declaration at the SSC was maybe half an hour too late.


Rangana Herath
(12 wickets at 28.58)

A five-wicket haul on the final day of the series seemed to reawaken the matchwinner in Rangana Herath, even if he could not get his side over the line in Colombo. He retains all the control of old, and still works batsmen over, but in Galle, he was not able to deliver the finishing blows fans are used to seeing from him. He bowled 172 overs against South Africa, which is bordering on insane for two back-to-back Tests. Sri Lanka should be wary, or his left arm may soon fall off.


Mahela Jayawardene
(178 runs at 44.50)

Contributed only 13 runs in three of his innings, but then played the innings of the series to set up Sri Lanka's push for victory at his home ground. That 165 was like so many other fine Jayawardene innings. No teammate scored even half as many runs. He had come in and played aggressively from 16 for 2, and when he was eventually run out, the rest of the team crumbled after him. Was perhaps unlucky to be given out for a duck in the second innings. He took two good slip catches in the final evening to take his career tally to 200.


Kumar Sangakkara
(172 runs at 43)

Was out to two short balls and a long hop in the series, but when South Africa tried to bounce him out again in the second innings at SSC, he responded with aggression. He could not extend his string of consecutive fifties at Galle, but the two half-centuries he did score were important knocks. But given his form in the past two years, a series average of 43 will be a personal disappointment.


Suranga Lakmal
(4 wickets at 43.75)

Toiled away on two decks that did not really suit him. Achieved a little reverse swing at both venues, but the batsmen were largely comfortable with his pace. He desperately missed the support of Shaminda Eranga at the other end, as well. Continues to be consistently economical, if not always penetrative.

Upul Tharanga
(138 runs at 34.50)

A fine comeback innings of 83, but not much of note after that. He has earned his place after a year of domestic achievement, but is still a long way from proving he can be a long-term opening option for Sri Lanka. The plays and misses outside off stump continue to plague him, as they have done in his ODI career, but once he gets through that gauntlet, the runs flow from his blade. He is still only 29, so if he can minimise the early risks, a decent Test career still beckons.

Kaushal Silva
(116 runs at 29)

Silva is not the kind of player to throw away his wicket, but he did not make use of three good starts in the series, when big totals seemed on offer. This was his first full series without a fifty, but with Pakistan coming up - against whom he excelled in January - he will hope to begin carving out the kinds of consistent runs that made him a first-class behemoth over several years.

One Test


Niroshan Dickwella
(88 at 44, 2 catches, 1 stumping)

Off the plane at Colombo around 36 hours before the match began, Dickwella had the kind of debut that had fans buzzing about the possibilities. His first-innings 72 was full of the verve that had defined him as a schoolboy and first-class cricketer, and while his keeping was less than perfect, it was not a terrible effort for a man who has not kept to these bowlers before. The selectors will know they have something to work with here, and perhaps even more importantly, his presence around the national team should light a fire under the likes of Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal.


Lahiru Thirimanne
(50 runs at 25)

Dropped more for his lean streak that began in England, rather than for just the Galle performance alone. He has only made one fifty across all formats since becoming vice-captain. The selectors will strongly consider giving him his place back for the Pakistan series, but they have now conveyed to him that he is on thin ice, despite the leadership role.


Kithuruwan Vithanage
(20 runs at 10)

At times, he looked at sea even against the South Africa spinners at SSC. The aggressive approach has worked for him in the past, but he may have to find the balance that will allow him to express himself against top opposition. He will probably get more opportunities over the next few series. His part-time legspin makes him a more attractive pick, but that could do with some work as well.


Dinesh Chandimal
(7 at 3.5, 3 catches)

Once the most promising of Sri Lanka's young batsmen, Chandimal's cricket has gone through a frustrating lean patch. Getting out playing the hook in single figures three times in a row was the breaking point for the selectors. He will have to win his place back via good A team performances.

Ajantha Mendis
(0 wickets, 85 runs conceded)

Ineffective in the first innings, and he went missing in the second, when Sri Lanka desperately needed wickets from him. He is still a decent limited-overs operator, but his Test career appears to be at a major crossroads.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nick on July 31, 2014, 3:11 GMT

    One more point for Sangakkara please!

    With all the 'shenanigans' and 'gamesmanship' on show in the Test series it was edifying to see Sangakkara walk, when he feathered to the keeper off Morkel, in SLs second innings at the SSC. This is a fine example of the spirit in which the game of cricket should be played.

  • greig on July 30, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    How does Mendis get a 2 score for being totally ineffective for SL? Him and Tahir both deserve a big fat ZERO.

  • Pad on July 30, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    There are only two take-aways for Sri Lanka from this series. 1. Mathews as a consistent player and a good leader, and 2. Dilruwan perera who could cover few years in the spin department. DO NOT judge Dickwella by a single innig. Most of you did the same with Chandimal, Thirimanne, Karunaratne and Vithanage with their early spots of brilliances. And now look what Sri Lanka has ended up with!! Reliance on oldies, Mathew being the only young reliable batsman with a somewhat decent opener in Kaushal. This should be worrying!!!

  • udendra on July 30, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    As I see it Kithruwan deserves a "0" as well.

  • Nick on July 30, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    Mathews at 5 and Dickwella at 7 certainly shores up the SL batting. Now for 6. With the other contenders away with SL A, it looks as if Thirimanne will be back for the Pakistan series, as Kithruwan twice threw his wicket away at SSC. While the return of Eranga (injury permitting) or Prasad, for Mendis, will balance the SL attack.

  • Johnathon on July 30, 2014, 2:45 GMT

    I'm curious why Mendis is still in the squad? He has not made an impact in Test Cricket for a very very long time now

  • Soy on July 30, 2014, 1:54 GMT

    SL will be so pleased that Mathews is rising so rapidly now that Jayawardena is almost finished (and Sanga's must be close also).

    I'm an Aussie and love the way SL play their cricket, they'd have to be the friendliest blokes going around (by and large). Ha, I do half-heartedly apologise for the fact our blokes rarely return the favour (it's in our blood to have a 'friendly chat' with others though).

    Pleased also to see that D Perera came a long way this series.

    As someone who found Ajantha (as in, saw his figures) in around 2007, I've been a huge fan of his since. It breaks my heart a little that he did not become a test cricket devastator like Muralitharan or some such. He had the natural, albeit raw, talent to do so IMO.

    He's still a superb short-format player, and may eventually become something at Tests (Herath and Ajmal were late bloomers), but for now he's dust.

    Tough series, no harm in going down 1-0 to SAF, especially given it was almost 1-1 (darned weather)

  • Prashan on July 30, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    For the time being, our bowling attack should include Herath, Perera, Lakmal, Eranga or Prasad.

    In the long term, we can have Tharindu Kaushal, Binura Fernando and Kasun Madushanka. Hopefully Dilruwan Perera has another 5 years of cricket left in him. Lakmal and Eranga may be a bit injury prone.

  • Prashan on July 30, 2014, 0:47 GMT

    Good analysis. Galle test had passengers like Thirimanne and Chandimal. Great fightback at SSC. Well should Eranga play if he recovers for the Galle test instead of Dhammika Prasad? Tough question. We must have Perera, Herath as main spinners and Vithanage as a part time spinner. Lakmal is good indeed but could not get wickets.

    My XI for the test in Galle next week. Kaushal, Tharanga, Sanga, Mahela, Angelo, Vithanage, Dickwella, Perera, Herath, Lakmal, Eranga or Prasad.

  • Sunil on July 29, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    With the exposure at the top over the years & the talent he got, if Ajantha put his head down and work hard could become a top bowler. He got top bowlers around him to learn from.

    What a revelation Dilruwan & Mathhew are. With many popping up from that school yard system, including a decent seam attack, looks ok for the future.

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