Test Cricket has finally returned for South African fans when Day 1 of the 1st Sri Lanka Vs. South Africa Test began at Galle.
Sri Lanka stand-in captain, Suranga Lakmal won the toss and elected to bat first, openers Danushka Gunathilaka and Dimuth Karunaratne made a solid effort, getting the hosts to 44 before the loss of the 1st wicket.
Dale Steyn made a steady return to the Test arena and in the post-lunch session, he got his 420th wicket, dismissing Mendis for 24. He now needs only 2 wickets to overtake Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s all-time leading wicket-taker.
Kagiso Rabada was brought into the attack and it took him only 10 balls to make the breakthrough, dismissing Gunathilaka for 26 in his 2nd over, with the score on 44-1. Tabraiz Shamsi then came into the attack and also took only 10 balls to strike, dismissing de Silva for 11 with a peach of a delivery that just floated across the right-hander and crashed into the off-stump.
After the lunch break, KG came back into the attack and struck twice in one over, to leave Sri Lanka reeling on 199-5, when he had Mathews caught behind for 1 and then two balls later, had Silva caught by a great catch from Markram at short leg without troubling the scorers. This boy, KG, can bowl and he is going to be handful on any pitch, anywhere in the world.
Shamsi was the pick of the spinners, taking 3-91 by the end of the innings, he out bowled Keshav Maharaj, who had a disappointing day with the ball.
The lone warrior for Sri Lanka was opener, Dimuth Karunaratne who made an unbeaten 158, he was simply outstanding to carry his bat through the innings.
After the promising first two sessions, I had high hopes that Sri Lanka would be dismissed for well under 200. I was wrong.
I have said this multiple times about South Africa and their bowling. They are not ruthless. They had Sri Lanka struggling on 176-8, but in typical South African fashion, they took their foot off the gas and Sri Lanka went on to go past the 250 mark.
Lakmal and Sandakan put on a further 111 runs for the final two wickets. This, in my opinion, is unacceptable. I gave Faf the benefit of the doubt, wondering if perhaps his fast bowlers were carrying injuries, meaning he was forced to overbowl Shamsi. This doesn’t seem to be the case, Faf just seemed determined to coast along and wait for the new ball. Typical. This has always been a problem for South Africa. They are not capable of getting the final few wickets. They do not go in for the kill.
The wicket of Aiden Markram late on day 1 for a duck was a big blow to South Africa, which means they have a lot of hard work to do on day 2 to get themselves back in this game.
I have faith in the team that they can, and will bat well. This is a Test match after all, they have plenty of time to construct an innings.