Sri Lanka batsmen asked to 'enjoy themselves' in pursuit of historic SA Test series win

Sudhir Gupta 21:26 22/02/2019
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Sri Lanka dismissed South Africa for 128 in Port Elizabeth despite being a bowler short.

Sri Lanka seamer Suranga Lakma (4-39) and part-time off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva (3-36) gave the visitors a great chance of winning the Port Elizabeth Test against South Africa on Friday.

It was a dramatic Friday as 19 wickets fell. South Africa batting collapsed once again as they were bowled out for a paltry 128 – giving the visitors a target of 197 – after their bowlers had done well to restrict Sri Lanka to 154 in the first innings.

Despite a half century from Faf Du Plessis, who was one of only three players to reach double figures, South Africa’s batsmen failed to make an impact.

Sri Lanka had resumed the day on 60-3, chasing South Africa’s first innings total of 222, and were all out for 154 in reply. Niroshan Dickwella chipped in with a useful 42 at number eight.

Starting their second innings with a lead of 68, South Africa were restricted by impressive Sri Lankan bowling, Lakmal the pick of the attack with Dhananjaya claiming three. Sri Lanka’s effort was all the more laudable as they are one bowler short after Lasith Embuldeniya was ruled out of the match after dislocating his thumb while bowling in the first innings.

Sri Lanka, who claimed a one-wicket win in the opening Test, finished the second day on 60-2 with Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis at the crease, chasing 137 more to win with eight wickets remaining.

After the day’s play, bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake said his players can’t afford to get tense and just need to enjoy the moment.

“Everybody knows what is expected of them,” Ratnayake said.

“The leadership has said, ‘just go out and enjoy yourselves’. Everybody is aware of history being made but that should be at the back of the mind. Everybody has the freedom to bat how they want to do at the right time.”

Sri Lanka are looking to become the first Asian team to win a Test series in South Africa.

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