South Africa Complete Operation ’Mop Up’ To Win First Test

South Africa Complete Operation ’Mop Up’ To Win First Test

31 December 2020 03:28 am

Betway Test Series - South Africa Vs Sri Lanka  

1st Test - Centurion - Day 4

South Africa completed operation 'mop up' and went on to demolish Sri Lanka by an innings and 45 runs on the afternoon of the fourth day, in the first Betway Test series played at the Centurion Grounds yesterday.

This is the first time that on South African soil a team had scored a 396 runs in the first innings and went on to lose the game.

To add salt to injury, Sri Lanka lost it by an innings too.

South Africa's win was completed rather skillfully, whilst Sri Lanka on the other hand lost it not due to the lack of talent or skill, but rather due to the fact that they were not able to handle the rigours of competing five straight days of professional test cricket.

The islanders came to South Africa on mission and that was to prove that their previous tour and series win was no flash in the pan.

But deep down in Head Coach Mickey Arthur's heart he knew that it was going to take a miracle to repeat that performance.

He knew that his players had lacked proper preparation for this tour and that the players whom he had selected especially the fast bowlers were burning out fast playing in the Lanka Premier League T20 Tournament. 

Arthur did confess to commentator Roshan Abeysinghe on live television during the LPL, that he was a selector at that time and the fact remains that this squad was picked even before Minister Namal Rajapaksa announced his appointed 7 member team of selectors.

"If I had my way I would have pulled out my quicks from the LPL" and "We knew we were going to endanger some guys which is why we brought 21 players" Mickey Arthur was quoted to have said as published by Cricinfo. 

Test cricket is the ultimate grind where professional cricketers representing their country are expected to field for a minimum of 2 full days and where bowlers are expected to bowl around 15 to 20 overs per day.

It takes personal discipline which is the now expected norm with so much of cricket taking place. 

But sadly many Sri Lankan cricketers lacked it on this tour and they proved it.

There was an interesting post being shared on social media soon after Sri Lanka lost this test match. It had a picture of Chaminda Vaas on it with a quote from the fast bowler. 

The former Sri Lankan spearhead who took 355 test wickets was saying that he used to bowl for one and a half hours non stop at the start of practice and that he would bowl another long spell at the end too. 

"Keeping fit is one thing and being match fit is another. When you bowl long spells it does wonders for your muscle memory" the former Sri Lankan spearhead who sustained just one injury in his 15 year career was quoted as saying. 

Sri Lanka Cricket appears to have crossed the T's and dotted the I's, in ensuring every base is covered at this level and also having a Head Coach on top of that too, in Mickey Arthur. 

But if cricketers especially bowlers are to be molly cuddled and asked to send down a mere 5 to 6 overs in a 40 minute practice session of bowling, then it will be a daunting task to see them send down 20 overs per day in a test match, whilst continuing to remain fit.

However after the fifth session commenced on day two, the Sri Lankan cricketers went on to prove this.

They also went on to prove that there is a serious flaw in how Sri Lanka Cricket and its highly paid team of professional back end staff were going about their business, in keeping their cricketers in perfect shape.

By day three, skipper Dimuth Karunaratne had lost three of his front line bowlers, and two others in debutant Hasaranga De Silva and batsman Dinesh Chandimal here seen hobbling off the field of play.

Head Coach Mickey Arthur who was seen sporting his famous double teapot pose, with both hands on hips each time a player walked off the field being injured, had even said that he was happy to have brought 21 players on this tour, if not his batting coach Grant Flower would have had to be sent in as the number 3 batsman with himself following at number 4.

Sri Lanka commenced day four knowing that they were staring down an empty barrel with their two recognized batsmen Kusal Perera and Dinesh Chandimal at the crease and with only Niroshan Dickwella and first innings half century maker Dasun Shanaka to follow.

However within the space of 23.1 overs, all of Sri Lanka's top order batsmen were back in the pavilion, with only the inevitable fact of a loss lurking in the background.

Dinesh Chandimal was the first to go when he was bowled by paceman Wiian Mulder and then Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka and Kusal Perera all gifted wicket keeper Quinton De Kock catches off the bowling of Mulder, Sipamla and Nortje respectively.

Debutant Hasaranga De Silva then went on to carve a record for himself, by being the first Sri Lankan to score a fifty and also take four wickets on debut. 

He scored 59 runs, containing 12 fours and a single six off 53 balls, before he succumbed when he went for another big hit and was snapped up by Temba Bavuma at Long Off, off the bowling of Sipamla.

Five balls later, Maharaj caught Kasun Rajitha in the gully off Nortje, who up until that point had been peppering the injured batsman by attacking his rib cage from around the wicket. Rajitha fended off 27 balls before he was out for a duck.

With Dhanajaya de Silva unable to bat, Sri Lanka's second innings folded 19 runs shorter than what Faf du Plessis scored, when he made a match winning knock of 199 runs to walk away with the 'Player of the Match' award.

The 2nd Betway Test Match commences on the 3rd of January 2021 at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.