Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando shared the first century partnership of the entire Castle Lager Test Series to enable Sri Lanka to inflict a chastening 8-wicket victory on the Standard Bank Proteas at St. George’s Park on Saturday.
In all their third-wicket partnership was worth 163 as Sri Lanka coasted to victory in the morning session on the third day as slightly less than 30 overs were required to score the remaining 137 runs needed for victory with 73 runs being scored in the first hour and the remaining 64 in a slightly extended second hour.
Mendis finished on 84 (110 balls, 13 fours) and Fernando’s contribution was 75 (106 balls, 10 fours and 2 sixes).
It was an historic day for Sri Lanka who clinched a 2-0 series win and thus joined Australia and England as the only other teams to win a Test match series in South Africa. They also join Australia as the only team in the modern era to go home unbeaten from a tour of South Africa.
The tour was a huge triumph for their stand-in captain Dimuth Kalunaratne who took over following successive defeats at home to England and then away to Australia and New Zealand. He has also had to pull the team together against the background of senior players lost through injury and loss of form and off-field distractions as well.
They also won this match with effectively only 10 players available following the unfortunate injury to Lasith Embuldeniya.
The Proteas were left with a lot to reflect on, not least of these being the fact that they were not even able to take the game to the halfway mark. It certainly is a major setback to their ambitions of catching India at the top of the ICC rankings log.
Few would have thought before the series began that Sri Lanka would produce not only the leading runs scorer in the series in Kusal Perera but even more significantly the two leading wicket takers in Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha, neither of whom had previously played under South African conditions.
Mendis was named Castle Lager Man of the Match and Perera Castle Lager Man of the Series.
The Sunfoil Education Trust (SET) benefited to the extent of R180 500 from the boundaries and sixes hit and wickets taken by both sides during the course of the match, taking the total for the series to R400 000.
This took the grand total for the combined Pakistan and Sri Lanka Test series past the one million mark to R1 084 500.