Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne said his team would try to stay positive after losing the first Test against South Africa by one innings and 45 runs within four days at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday. Karunaratne complained about the injuries that derailed his bowling attack, with fast bowlers Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara both sustaining groin injuries and being unable to bowl. “We were behind the wheel after scoring nearly 400 runs,” said the skipper. “We did pretty well as a batting unit, but we lost a few bowlers.”
Sri Lanka got off to a good start, scoring 396 points after winning the toss, but a bowling attack with an injury gave up 621 when South Africa batted, with man-of-the-match Faf du Plessis holding 199.
Sri Lanka was eliminated for 180 in the second innings despite half centuries of Kusal Perera (64) and debutant Wanindu Hasaranga (59).
Karunaratne said Rajitha and Kumara would not have time to recover for the second and final test, which starts at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.
But he expected lead bowler Suranga Lakmal to recover from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the first Test, while fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera waited in the wings.
“We have one more game to go and I will try to keep them together. We have to keep thinking positively. Suranga and Dushmantha can do a good job for us,” he said.
Sri Lanka also lost batter Dhananjaya de Silva, who was ruled out of the series with a torn thigh muscle after scoring an impressive 79 in the first innings. He didn’t hit in the second innings.
Karunaratne did not specify who could replace De Silva with the Wanderers, but hinted that it could be a “youngster”.
New South African captain Quinton de Kock said South Africa’s first Test win since the corresponding match against England at the same venue last December “feels really good”.
De Kock said he was disappointed with South Africa’s bowling performance at the start of Sri Lanka’s first innings, but “we came back nicely” towards the end of the innings.
He said a strong batting performance had been put in by openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, who had 141 for the first wicket.
“Getting off to a good start always helps the team. There were quite a few demons in the wicket, but they played some great cricket shots and showed great intentions and that hit the rest of the batting line-up.”
He praised Du Plessis and Temba Bavuma for rebuilding the innings after a flurry of wickets left South Africa at 220 for four. “It’s important that senior guys get up on the team. There is no better person in that situation than Faf.”
Looking forward to the second Test, De Kock said he was encouraged by the way the bowlers performed in the second innings. “The seamers came out with great intent with the ball and to finish it like we did was very nice.”
South Africa entered the first Test with an inexperienced pace bowling lineup, with the four seamers only having 12 previous caps and 35 wickets between them.
They will likely be bolstered by the return of Kagiso Rabada, who has played in 43 Tests, but De Kock said new cap Lutho Sipamla and all-rounder Mulder, who played his second Test, had both performed well.
Sipamla overcame a nervous start, giving up 38 runs in his first five overs, to finish with match scores of six to 100, while Mulder provided accuracy and control in taking two wickets in each innings.
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