Superb scenes to sign off international cricket for 2011! Sri Lanka have won in South Africa at long last, and they are cock-a-hoop! Tossed up on the stumps and it goes straight through past de Lange's limp slog to the leg side. Stumps are disturbed by the ball, and then grabbed out by exuberant Sri Lankans. They join in a huddle in the middle. Swampy Marsh trots out with barely concealed glee on his face. A proud moment for each member in that team - they all played a part in this win.
Time, then, to say adieu from the international commentary box for 2011. A superb year, with lot of high-quality cricket, even if some of the best series were two-match shoot-outs. Hoping for more such classics next year, may be a little less contention around DRS. On behalf of my mates at ESPNcricinfo, this is Nitin Sundar saying so long, and thanks for all the fish. See you in 2012!
Sid Ravi's report has all you need to know about what transpired today. I suspect this match report will be read many times over the years, and perhaps this is where Sri Lankan cricket turns the definitive corner as a force in Test cricket. We'll soon have a lot of analysis and comment from Madame Firdose Moonda who is in Durban. Do check in for that.
It is dark and gloomy in Durban, but as they say, it is always the darkest just before the dawn. What an arena to win your first Test of the post-Murali era! What a heart-warming turnaround this, and what a way to round off one of the greatest years of Test cricket in recent times! Sri Lanka have hurtled from one low to another after a sizzling run to the World Cup final. Their board ran into losses, their Twenty20 league was forced to be scrapped. The cash-strapped board couldn't pay the players, and one defeat followed another. They hurtled to an embarrassing loss in Cardiff, in a Test where it rained for more time than there was play, and proceeded to lose every single Test and ODI series they played in the year. They took a hammering of epic proportions in the first Test here. Who'd have thought they could make this turnaround happen? Take a bow, Sri Lanka! Cricket is richer for having you guys in the fold.
Presentation time: Smith: "We were outplayed comprehensively in all departments. Credit to Dilshan and his team. The surface probably suited their style of play better. Our bad sessions were really bad, and that was disappointing. Great to have depth in bowling. Vernon does so well, and then Marchant comes in and impresses. It is exciting to have these guys. Important Test ahead of us to start 2012." No talk there of quitting as captain. The rumours can wait for a while.
Dilshan: "Great comeback for us. Really happy to have my first win as captain in South Africa. I think our intensity was high from the moment we won the toss and chose to bat. If we put runs in the board, we knew we could put pressure on them, and that happened. Thilan batted really well with Chandimal, on debut. Sanga too made a fantastic effort, and everyone of us chipped in - Welegedara, Herath... this was a real team effort. Our fans know we can beat any team if we play our Sri Lankan brand of cricket. We just need to take this to Newlands."
We are informed that Rangana Herath is the Man of the Match. "Very happy with the way we played. A great moment for Sri Lankan cricket. So happy, this is unbelievable to win in South Africa! There was something in it for the spinners, so I knew I would get a lot of overs. The fielding was great, Sanga and Thilan made great centuries, and that's what made this possible."
stays back and defends with the turn to the off side.
de Lange comes out. Sri Lanka will believe they don't need an extra half hour. Five balls left in this over.
and another one bites the dust. Steyn's resistance is over. Just seemed to misread the lack of spin on this new ball - that can happen after batting for so long against an old one that was twirling around madly. He was playing down the wrong line as Herath slid this in, and by the time Steyn's bat came through to the left, the ball hit the pad in front of the stumps.
Two wickets to go. Tahir marches out to the middle. We can have an extra half hour tonight, but I doubt that light would allow it.
Morkel's gone. Given lbw. He wanted to review it, but South Africa are out of reviews. Tossed up on off stump, he wanders across to the off side and heaves again, but the ball was too full for him to get under. It went under the bat and hit him on the back thigh as he kneeled down to slog. Hit in front of off, crashing into middle. Kettleborough got this one dead right.
Morkel walks across and works Dilshan to the leg side for two.
a more considered leave outside off as the ball spins away.
that skidded on. Shrieks of angst from the fielders as Morkel leaves. Close to off stump that.
sharp turn away as Morne looks to defend to the off side. Beaten.
there could be a run out to complete this tale of woe... Or not. Morne might have just got back in. Squeezes with the turn behind point and sets off madly for a single that didn't exist. Steyn sends in him in the nick of time and Morkel dives in with the elegance of a giraffe diving in. A direct hit would have seen him on his way. Chandimal had to collect and break the stumps, though. Did the bat bounce after being grounded? Tough to say. He gets the benefit of doubt.
too much flight, Steyn takes him on with a skip and a loft. Gets to the flight and tees off clean and straight. Well struck.
curling in towards middle and leg, Steyn defends off the front foot.
Steyn plays back to a flighted ball that spins down the line, but manages to defend it.
whoa, Steyn skips out and bashes a flighted ball right back and it bangs an evasive Morkel as he leaps on the right thigh pad. He goes down, but looks ok. The pad did the trick.
too straight, worked off the front foot to midwicket for a single.
Morkel does a good impersonation of his idol Hayden, heaving a tossed up ball with the spin over midwicket for a couple.
"If SA are saved by rain tomorrow, everyone should become an atheist," says Kieron.
flighted to end the over, Steyn digs it out to mid-off.
loopy outside off, defended off the front foot.
lands outside leg and straightens. Easily defended.
stays back and defends a ball turning down the line.
defended with the turn to the leg side.
|Toss||Sri Lanka, elected to bat first|
|Player Of The Match|
|Series result||3-match series level 1-1|
|Match number||Test no. 2026|
|Hours of play (local time)||9.30am start, Lunch 12.00-12.40, Tea 14.40-15.00, Close 17.00|
|Match days||26,27,28,29 December 2011 - day (5-day match)|
Marchant de Lange