South Africa dominated the Newlands Test from start to end, never allowing the Sri Lankans with even a foot in the game. They were highly efficient with the bat, and mighty impressive with the ball, as they clinched the game inside four days. The 282-run win was a good enough indication of Proteas’ domination as it was of Sri Lankan batsmen’s inability to deal with the conditions. Their lack of ability was clearly exposed, and with the few experienced batsmen also failing to stand up to the challenge, Sri Lanka ending up reaching nowhere as the Newlands Test progressed.
Sri Lanka’s batting let them down very badly in the game. Not a single batsman managed to reach fifty in either innings. Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews’ 49 in the second essay was the highest score for Sri Lanka in the match. Being the leader, a lot more was expected from him. Dinesh Chandimal, the other experienced batsman in the team, also failed to convert starts. He made a swift 30 in the second innings, but like Mathews, even he did not carry on. Had the duo stayed on for longer, the Lankans could definitely have competed better.
To do well with the bat, Sri Lanka needed good starts. However, the constant failure of the top three made matters worse for them, especially the middle-order, which itself has a fair share of inexperience. Both the openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kausal Silva struggled. Considering that the duo has played over 30 Tests each, they should have done much better. But, both Karunaratne and Silva do not have much experience of playing in South African conditions. And that was evident in their batting. The number three slot was a big issue as both Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera failed.
South Africa’s bowling, in contrast, made a massive difference to the team’s fortune. Kagiso Rabada was brilliant throughout the match, and the Lankans could never come to terms over how to deal with him. His four wickets in the first innings stifled them, and the second innings, he literally ran through the Lankan batting to claim the man of the match award. Rabada got excellent support in the form of his senior Vernon Philander. The latter himself played a starring role, claiming four and three wickets respectively in the two innings. Keshav Maharaj didn’t have much to do, but played a good back-up role.
South Africa’s batsmen were not exceptional by any standards, but did well enough to stay on course for a good total. Dean Elgar held the innings together in the first innings after there was a batting collapse. Lower down the order, wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock once again came up with an excellent knock, scoring an unbeaten hundred. The tail also chipped in well, with Philander and Maharaj playing good cameos. Elgar came up with a good knock in the second innings as well, making a half-century. At the end of the day, South Africa were too good for the Sri Lankans.
--By A Cricket Analyst