Kusal Mendis, Oshada Fernando lead Sri Lanka to historic series win
They put on an unbroken 163-run stand to ensure Sri Lanka became the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa
Sri Lanka 154 (Dickwella 42, Rabada 4-38) and 197 for 2 (Mendis 84*, Oshada 75*, Olivier 1-46) beat South Africa 222 (De Kock 86, Vishwa 3-62, Rajitha 3-67) and 128 (Du Plessis 50*, Lakmal 4-39, de Silva 3-36) by eight wickets
Sri Lanka arrived in South Africa in a state of utter turmoil
- both on and off the field. After less than seven days of cricket, they have become only the third visiting side - after England and Australia - and the first Asian team to clinch a Test series in South Africa.
It was Kusal Mendis
, who spearheaded the famous win with a regal, unbeaten 84 off 110 balls in a chase of 197. He found an adventurous partner in Oshada Fernando
, who struck 75 not out in 106 balls, and they peeled off 163 off 213 balls - the first century stand of the series to usher Sri Lanka to the target.
When the day began, it was still anybody's game: Sri Lanka needed 137 runs and South Africa eight wickets. But Sri Lanka eventually stormed to victory without losing even a single wicket.
Mendis, in particular, rolled out one rollicking drive after another and collared South Africa's seam attack. Once left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj was recalled, Oshada twinkled down the track and launched him towards the sight screen. Mendis was the first to raise his half-century, off 52 balls, with a straight drive off Dale Steyn in the 29th over. Three overs later, Oshada moved to his maiden fifty in his fourth Test innings with a full-blooded back-foot whip between midwicket and mid-on off Maharaj.
Rabada had cranked his pace up to speeds in the higher 140kph range, but Mendis and Oshada diffused his threat without much trouble. And when anything was remotely wide of off, they went after it like they owned it. Duanne Olivier hit the deck hard, like he has been doing through the summer, but Oshada took him on with daring hooks. What about Steyn? Mendis took him for a triptych of drives in his first over of the day, the pick of them a straight hit that nearly put Oshada in danger. And just like that, the hundred stand came off 126 balls.
The closest South Africa came close to picking up a wicket was when Mendis flashed an outside edge, but Hashim Amla could not latch on to an overhead catch at first slip. Mendis was on 70 and Sri Lanka needed just 32 at that point. Mendis and Oshada knocked them off in fuss-free fashion to cap another monumental victory for Sri Lanka.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo