With the dust settled, all that remains is a Test epic

2019-02-18 15:15
Kusal Perera (Gallo)
Kusal Perera (Gallo)

Durban - Had they known of the epic finish that awaited, the Durban public would surely have made more of an effort to get down to Kingsmead on Saturday for day four of the first Test between the Proteas and Sri Lanka.

They would have seen their side come out on the losing end, but they would also have witnessed one of the greatest run chases in the game's history. 

Sri Lanka, given no chance, did the unthinkable. 

Kusal Perera's 153*, which included a record-setting 78* stand for the 10th wicket with Vishwa Fernando, was one of the finest Test innings you are ever likely to see. 

The Proteas, stunned, were left with no option but to take this one on the chin. 

Skipper Faf du Plessis will ask himself some serious questions about what happened in that final hour-and-a-half, as will Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada. 

Looking back, there are a million things that could have had an outcome on the result, but none of those will matter to Sri Lanka now.

Du Plessis, addressing media shortly after one of his lowest points as Proteas captain on Saturday, could not hide his disappointment. 

From the neutral's perspective, however, this was the perfect advertisement for a format that is facing an uphill battle to stay relevant given the continued success of short-format cricket. 

"We're very disappointed to be on the losing side, but there will be times when you're on the winning side," Du Plessis explained.

"This is what Test cricket should be. It should show people that it is still the number one format.

"It's incredible the amount of times the game goes to the opposition and then comes to you and goes back. It's great to be part of an amazing Test match."

That is exactly what happened at Kingsmead. 

Every time the Proteas looked set to take the game away, Sri Lanka found themselves clawing back into contention. 

Until that last hour of madness, the Proteas were always favourites. Sri Lanka, though, ensured that they were always in with a chance, regardless of how slim it seemed. 

"I don't feel that we did a lot wrong. We weren't poor," Du Plessis said.

"We have to give credit to them.

"If people feel that this is a low point for me then that is their opinion, but I thought we were in control for 80% of the Test match."

To the players, Test cricket remains the pinnacle and at Kingsmead on Saturday, it was easy to see why that has always been the case. 

The Proteas, 1-0 down, can only salvage a draw from this series now with just the Port Elizabeth Test to come. 

That match gets underway on Thursday.


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