Cape Town – One
man in the opposition ranks, only twice dismissed in four innings, currently
sports more Test runs than one country has managed in entirety across three
completed team knocks in the nearly-completed series.
That stark statistic
sums up how sorry South Africa have been thus far in the two-game series
against Sri Lankan foes moving very speedily toward a 2-0 sweep.
opener Dimuth Karunaratne, at stumps on day two of the second Test in Colombo,
was 59 not out in his team’s second-innings total of 151 for three.
an already monstrous overall lead of 365 with seven wickets in hand, a
situation largely brought about by yet another wafer-thin showing from the
Proteas in their first knock: 124 all out in 34.5 overs.
tourists, remember, produced a “grand” total of 199 runs in the first-Test
humiliation in Galle, so they have lost 30 wickets in the series thus far for
323 runs – surely as spineless and bankrupt as it has got for them as a batting
unit since their return from isolation in 1992.
by contrast, is feasting royally on the ludicrously-structured, seam-heavy SA
attack, now having advanced to 330 runs alone and not done yet: his sequence of
scores is now 158 not out and 60 (Galle) and 53 and 59 not out (Colombo).
only a matter of time before the Proteas are put out of their misery in the
series: the best ever fourth-innings total at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground
is 397, by New Zealand in 2009, and even that wasn’t enough to stave off a
96-run defeat; Faf du Plessis and company are almost certain to be set a target
well bigger than that.
are truly at sixes and sevens at the crease in these conditions, almost
everybody in their specialist batting arsenal under varying levels of harsh
scrutiny for delivery in recent times, and the situation hardly helped by the
presence of so few competent or at least resilient stroke-players in their
topical, though, is South Africa’s extraordinary selection naivety in this
recommended a stay of major ridicule on that subject after the first day’s
play, considering that Sri Lanka had been curtailed to 277 for nine at the
close, which based on healthy recent history by sides batting first at the
ground represented a decent enough showing by the side in the field.
Saturday, things went pear-shaped very quickly in all senses, including the
embarrassment of another concerted, highly damaging and demoralising Sri Lankan
wicket added a further 61 runs, before left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj finally added
a stellar ninth wicket to his haul (9/129 from 41.1 overs).
left the burning question of “what if” the Proteas had had another
fully-fledged spinning option to call on.
folly of their team balance was then only underlined when Sri Lanka didn’t even
employ the pace services of their captain, Suranga Lakmal, in the short-lived
SA innings: their well-stocked slow trio did the destruction job consummately.
Maharaj: the fact that the Proteas only occupied the crease for well less than
three hours meant the footsore warrior was quickly back in action all over
again as spearhead of their lopsided bowling unit.
understandably, Sri Lanka made a point of going after him as quickly as
possible to rub salt into their opponents’ wounds from a blunder-level point of
travelling at above five runs to the over by Saturday’s close, despite adding a
further two scalps to his name in the match, and almost needless to say the
seam contribution to the cause on the slow and increasingly turning, dusting
track was negligible.
the unwanted cherry on top, in the last over of the day part-timer Dean Elgar
turned one almost square to Angelo Mathews, really only indicating the extent
of the challenge facing the mentally fragile Proteas when they get around to
gruesome times for them …
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