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South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test at Centurion, , Dec 15 2011 - Ball by Ball Commentary

1st Test, Centurion, December 15 - 17, 2011, Sri Lanka tour of South Africa
180 & 150

South Africa won by an innings and 81 runs

Player Of The Match
5/53 & 5/49
SL 2nd Innings
Full commentary

On the whole, I'll remember this Test for Kallis' bloodied ear, AB's 99, Mahela's 9,999 and Boucher's raft of catches. But mostly for Vernon Philander. On behalf of Alex Winter and the rest of the crew, this is Nitin Sundar signing off from the Centurion Test. See y'all in Durban, and do stay tuned for the packed season upon us. Cheers!

Sri Lanka have ten days to recover from this hammering. That is a long time. India turned it around superbly last year after enduring a mauling in Centurion. Will Durban mark that sort of comeback for Sri Lanka? Gnasher's report has the details of how Sri Lanka capsized today.

Vernon Philander is Man of the Match, indeed. Surprise me. Here's what he says after snaffling 10-102 in his third Test: "Bowling form is like batting form, when you have it you should make it count. I have been trying to keep things simple, and it is working so no need to change anything. I like to hit the in-between lengths, that plays a big part in it. Guys like Willoughby and Dawson really helped when I started, and they have all played a big part in it. Dale is the No. 1 Test bowler in the world, and it is good for me to be bowling with him."

Smith: "We were a little bit on second gear on the first day, but recovered. And I thought we batted quite well. We worked well in pairs with bat and ball through the Test match. There was a lot happening on the pitch through out the game. As a batsman you needed to knuckle down, and AB's 99 was as good as a 100. Days like today make Gary and co. extremely happy. It's great to see so many people come out here in Pretoria and support us in the holiday season."

Dilshan: "Definitely disappointing. We recovered from a poor start on the first day, but it didn't work out. I am happy with the bowlers, they did a great job. A long way to go in this series, our batting unit can still come together and do a job. Mathews has 10 days to recover before the next Test. Nuwan Kulasekara and Dhammika Prasad are joining us in time for Durban, and we hope we can do better there."

You thought it couldn't get worse for Sri Lanka? It just did. This is sad to see. One can only hope they turn the corner soon. Even at the best of times, they have struggled to make a splash in South Africa, and this is far from the best of times for them.

Allan Donald is out there, he's congratulating South Africa's latest seam merchant. Four five-fors in three Test matches, and my guess is another Man of the Match - two in three Tests, plus a Man of the Series - for Philander. Even if they ask the public to vote on it, I don't think we will have another candidate. Steyn's been overshadowed again, but he doesn't seem to mind. All smiles as he embraces his new-ball partner.

"Poor Vernon has really struggled mightily to get his bowling average into single figures, but alas it remains stubbornly on 12." Shocker, eh, Nicolas.

"This guy's name should be 5lander." Eloquent six-word report from Pavithran.

Philander to Herath, OUT

Vernon has five again. Boucher has eight catches in the match, six of them in this innings, and Vernon has ten for the game, and it is all over before tea on day three. Are we even halfway into the Test match? Just about. Typical Vernon ball, nipped away off the seam, Herath looked to play it to the off side, but the ball did enough to sniff at the edge and carry through to Bouch. The nick was quite faint, even Bouch didn't see it. Only Vernon appealed, Umpire Davies doesn't say anything, but Herath walks. Everyone else follows.

Rangana Herath c †Boucher b Philander 23 (18b 2x4 2x6 37m) SR: 127.77

"The way the Lankan batsmen are throwing away their wickets I guess South Africa won't mind playing the second test starting today itself and they'll probably win it before the scheduled close of play for this first Test!" Don't give them ideas, Swapnil. I need the break after an early finish!

end of over 395 runs
SL: 150/9CRR: 3.84 
Dilhara Fernando4 (7b 1x4)
Rangana Herath23 (17b 2x4 2x6)
Jacques Kallis 5-3-13-0
Vernon Philander 11-1-49-4
Kallis to Fernando, no run

angled across the right hander, he has a waft at it and misses.

Round the stumps for the last ball.

Kallis to Fernando, no run

looks to slog him again, but misses the line this time.

Kallis to Fernando, FOUR runs

Dilhara bashes this down the ground. He pre-meditated this shot to an extent that he probably chose the stroke for 38.4 even before the tour began. Length ball in the slot, and he forces it airily back over the bowler's head for four. Poor timing, but it doesn't matter.

Kallis to Fernando, no run

looks to steer a short ball outside off, but it is through him in a hurry.

Kallis to Fernando, (no ball)

another shortie, and called a no-ball for over-stepping. He counts this as the first bouncer. Dilhara swings out of harm's way.

Kallis to Fernando, no run

aha, he's getting closer. Another short ball that landed in that menacing midway length and carried on towards the head. Dilhara ducked, just in time.

Kallis to Fernando, no run

bouncer outside off, not near the ear, and Dilhara stays out of the way.

"Tahir could get a role in a Bollywood movie with his extravagant displays of emotion." Sumith, what an idea, Sirjee! Kallis comes on for what might be the last over of the Test. Fernando faces. Will he hit him in the ear?

end of over 3812 runs • 1 wicket
SL: 145/9CRR: 3.81 
Rangana Herath23 (17b 2x4 2x6)
Vernon Philander 11-1-49-4
Imran Tahir 4-1-15-1

SA a wicket away from a quick win.

Philander to Welegedara, OUT

Vernon has four, can he get 10 for the game? Chanaka tries to put a satellite in orbit, backing away and slashing with gusto. Despite his best efforts, it drops back down towards the planet and lands in Vernon's hands. It was one of those steeplers that hung in the air for so long that practically any of the 11 fielders could have taken it. But Vernon called.

Chanaka Welegedara c & b Philander 10 (8b 1x4 1x6 7m) SR: 125
Philander to Welegedara, no run

Chanaka is showing Vernon all his stumps, as he moves away and swings. Play and a miss through to Bouch.

Philander to Welegedara, no run

this one slips down the leg and he lets it go.

Philander to Welegedara, FOUR runs

he's going for them all. Backs away and looks to heave a straight ball mindlessly and gets an inside edge through backward square leg for four.

Philander to Welegedara, SIX runs

Carved into the crowd! Such carving will come handy on Christmas. Chanaka backs away to a length ball in the slot and launches it inside out over extra cover. That went quite high before being caught in the grassbanks. Strength to the person who held on.

Philander to Welegedara, no run

seams away from outside off, Chanaka feels for it and misses.

Philander to Herath, (no ball) 1 run

Vernon over-steps, this time Herath doesn't blast him into outer space. Defended to mid-off for a single.

end of over 37Wicket maiden
SL: 133/8CRR: 3.59 
Chanaka Welegedara0 (2b)
Rangana Herath22 (16b 2x4 2x6)
Imran Tahir 4-1-15-1
Vernon Philander 10-1-37-3
Tahir to Welegedara, no run

Add the Grammy and the soccer World Cup to Tahir's list of achievements. He's beside himself. Appeal for catch at short leg is given, and SL take it upstairs. Googly slips in towards the forward prod, goes straight onto the pad and is caught at short leg. You could drive a Gautrain through the distance between bat and ball. Whoa, Tahir, you had me there for a moment. Decision over-turned.

Tahir to Welegedara, no run

fuller ball on the stumps, worked to the leg side.

Tahir to Silva, OUT

I think Tahir just won the Nobel Prize, the Oscar, and a big lottery. At least the celebration says so as he charges around, yelling with his arms aloft and his head banging. Lovely ball, mind you. Holds the length back and turns it past the face of Silva's bat as he looks to cover the spin off the front foot. The ball licks the edge and pops into slip's hand.

Kaushal Silva c Kallis b Imran Tahir 17 (45b 1x4 0x6 71m) SR: 37.77
Tahir to Silva, no run

tossed up on off stump, Silva drives uppishly and it nearly carries to mid-off.

Tahir to Silva, no run

fuller ball, driven into the off side.

Tahir to Silva, no run

Tahir slips one down the leg side, Bouch collects well. And appeals for a stumping. Aha, we are going upstairs. Quite surprising appeal, the foot never lifted out of the crease.

Plenty of beer in the grassbanks. The crowd looks smashed, sloshed and happy.

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