Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
1 minute read
13 Feb 2019
5:31 pm

Plucky Sri Lankans expose Proteas’ flawed pitch plan

Heinz Schenk

The embattled visitors show spirit in dishing out a dose of South Afrca's own medicine at Kingsmead.

Aiden Markram was castled early. Photo: Gallo Images.

The Proteas on Wednesday discovered that a green pitch doesn’t mean that the grass is greener.

Preparing bowler-friendly surfaces has become common in South African Test series for the past two years as Ottis Gibson and his charges try to blow opponents away with a potent pace attack.

And the batsmen?

Well, they just have to cope.

However, what the Proteas didn’t quite bank on was Sri Lanka capitalising so well on winning the toss and bowling first.

Indeed, the visitors were spirited and largely accurate in dismissing the hosts for 235.

They then weathered the new ball reasonably well in ending the day on 49/1, a deficit of 186.

Some might even argue the Sri Lankans are tentatively in control.

The Proteas top-order looked decidedly rusty since the 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan.

Dean Elgar’s poor run continued as he fished outside off, Hashim Amla couldn’t take advantage of a controversial let-off when Sri Lanka apparently “wasted” too much time with a review and Aiden Markram was comprehensively castled.

From the depths of 17/3, South Africa managed to scrape runs together.

Temba Bavuma was classy in crafting his 47 before he was run out off a deflected Quinton de Kock drive, while Faf du Plessis (35) was dogged.

His dismissal down leg though felt wasteful.

The top-order’s waywardness, however, meant the brilliant De Kock was once again left with only the tail for company.

His 80 off 91 was brilliantly attacking – even if he did survive a dropped chance – and featured a massive 101m hit off Kasun Rajitha (3/68), but the Sri Lankans kept pegging away.

Vishwa Fernando’s 4/62 was particularly impressive.

Dale Steyn ended Lahiru Thirimanne’s 15-ball torture, but the visitors were solid after that.

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