Rangana Herath shows his fourth innings prowess and other takeaways as Sri Lanka thump South Africa

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Herath's six-wicket haul led Sri Lanka's march to victory.

Sri Lanka completed their first Test series victory over South Africa since 2006 after they beat the visitors by 199 runs in the second and final Test at Colombo on Monday.

Having been set a mammoth target of 490 to get in their second innings, the Proteas has their task cut out as they resumed from their overnight score of 138-5. In the end, Faf du Plessis’ men were bundled out for 290 in the second innings as Sri Lanka completed a 2-0 series clean-sweep.

Here, we look at the key talking points from day four at Colombo.

THEUNIS DE BRUYN STAND TALL WITH MAIDEN TON

In a series where South African batsmen have been repeatedly entangled by Sri Lanka’s web of spin, Theunis de Bruyn was a rare bright spot for the visitors as he dug in to play a defiant innings filled with grit and doggedness.

The 25-year-old batsman had scored only 14 runs in his two innings previously on the tour but he showed remarkable application and patience in a 232-ball vigil at the crease before he notched up his maiden Test ton.

The right-hander forged a 123-run stand for the sixth wicket with Temba Bavuma in what was South Africa’s only 100-plus partnership in the entire series. The fact that the half-centuries registered by him and Bavuma (63) were the only ones to come off South Africa’s bat in the tour was a damning indictment of their performances in the turning tracks of Sri Lanka.

Bruyn’s 101-run knock has equalled the highest fourth innings score by a South African batsman in Asia. Previously, Jonty Rhodes had attained the same score against Sri Lanka in 1995.

Theunis de Bruyn registered his side's only ton of the series.

Theunis de Bruyn registered his side’s only ton of the series.

HERATH’S SIX-WICKET BURST EXTINGUISHES PROTEAS HOPES

As the gritty partnership between Bavuma and De Bruyn started unfolding, the Proteas’ slim hopes of pulling of the impossible did not seem unrealistic. That is, until veteran spinner Rangana Herath took matters into his own hands.

The 40-year-old broke the stubborn stand moments before the lunch interval when he had Bavuma caught behind. He would inflict another big blow on the visitors before lunch could be taken when he trapped the dangerous Quinton de Kock in front of the pads.

From that moment, it was only De Bruyn that stood between a Sri Lanka victory and his fighting innings was extinguished soon after the interval as he became Herath’s fifth victim of the innings. The well-set batsman could only watch in bewilderment as his decision to leave a ball that came straight on with the arm proved fatal.

It was only fitting that Herath claimed the final wicket to bring up the Sri Lankan victory when he dismissed Dale Steyn. The veteran spinner now has 34 five-wicket hauls in Test cricket and his 6-98 was the 12th time that Herath had claimed five or more wickets in the fourth innings of a Test. No other bowler has claimed more than seven in the final innings of a Test match.

Herath has mastered the art of bowling in the fourth innings.

Herath has mastered the art of bowling in the fourth innings.

DANUSHKA GUNATHILAKA CLOUD HANGS OVER SRI LANKA VICTORY

Even as Sri Lanka took the field on morning of the fourth day, they had been rocked by the news of Danuska Gunathilaka’s suspension. The opening batsman was suspended from playing all forms of international cricket pending an inquiry by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) late on Sunday night.

Gunathilaka’s suspension came into effect immediately as Sri Lanka completed their 199-run win. The official statement from SLC did not delve into any further details over the nature of Gunathilaka’s misconduct. However, a report by AFP (Agence France-Presse) has stated that the opening batsman’s friend has been accused of rape by a Norwegian woman in a hotel room where Gunathilaka was present.

The incident is alleged to have taken place in the wee hours of Sunday after the third day’s play. “The 26-year-old is under arrest and we are continuing our investigations,” a Sri Lankan police official told AFP. Gunathilaka had registered half centuries in each innings in Sri Lanka’s win at Colombo.

An inquiry has been opened against the batsman by SLC.

An inquiry has been opened against the batsman by SLC.

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