Cape Town - The Proteas' top order batting crumbled badly
for the second time in the match to send them plummeting to a 278-run defeat in
the opening Test against Sri Lanka in Galle on Saturday.
Final scorecard: Sri Lanka v Proteas, 1st Test
It was South
Africa’s second biggest defeat ever to Sri Lanka.
The bowlers had done as good a job as could be expected of
them, taking the remaining six Sri Lankan second innings wickets in the morning
session, which left the Proteas with a victory target of 352 runs.
In the process there were landmarks for Kagiso Rabada whose
seven wickets in the match took his career total to 150 in his 31st
Test, making him the third fastest South African to this mark.
Tayfield and Dale Steyn both took two matches fewer. Steyn himself captured the
last wicket of the innings to take his career total to 421, level with Shaun
Pollock as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker of all time.
But any hope the Proteas had of making a fist of it
disappeared as they lost their first five wickets inside 20 overs to almost matched
the 21 overs that it took to happen in the first innings. The big worry for the
Proteas is the fact that this was not a repeat of the raging turners they
encountered in India in 2015.
This was a traditional sub-continent surface on which
batsmen could make runs, particularly in the first half of the match. As it
was, the game was almost completed inside two-and-a-half days.
The Proteas top four batsmen had a combined runs aggregate
of 65 runs for the two innings and that made the debate of whether to play a
seventh specialist batsman irrelevant.
Proteas captain on their first
tour to Sri Lanka, Kepler Wessels, summed it up: “To make runs under these
conditions you have to bat time”. That is the first lesson that will have to be
learned as the Proteas endeavour to square the series in the second Test next
Dilruwan Perera led the second innings destruction with
figures of 6/32 to give him 10 in the match.
The Proteas total of 73 was their lowest in a Test
The second and final Test in Colombo starts on Friday, July 20.