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Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2nd Test at Colombo: Pride at stake for high-flying hosts

Sri Lanka will look to level the series at Colombo © Getty Images
Sri Lanka will look to level the series at Colombo © Getty Images

Trailing 0-1 in the two-match Test series against South Africa at home, Sri Lanka will aim to get their act together and post a series levelling win at Colombo in the second Test. After all, the shocking loss in the opening Test match at Galle would have served as an alarm to the rebuilding side led by Angelo Mathews, says Devarchit Varma.

If there is one side that can be looked up to this year, it has to be Sri Lanka. Not only did they win everything that came their way since January, the icing on the cake proved to be their hard-fought victory in the Test series in England. The Lankans have been like men on a mission, setting examples for the other sides in the cricketing world. However, the shocking loss to a young South African side dented their performance in 2014, and this is something they would want to forget very soon.

No one would have expected South Africa sans the leadership of Graeme Smith or the brilliance of Jacques Kallis to win their first Test match on overseas soil under Hashim Amla. The South Africans have notoriously been slow starters in the recent Test series that they have played in the past couple of months. However, they set the tone early in this ongoing series and having taken the lead, they would be fancying an exclusive series win.

Sri Lanka do not have anyone but themselves to blame for the loss in the first Test. On a track that suited them with a potent spin attack, they allowed South Africa to put up a total in the first innings that not only looked intimidating but also hampered their chances of a comeback. Given the fact that South Africa are the only side with a bowling attack capable of winning Tests on any kind of track, a cautious approach could have served Sri Lanka better.

Dale Steyn wreaked havoc on the host batsmen, and their confidence certainly would have taken a hit after his performance in Galle. But they have to look for solutions inwards; the young Sri Lankan batsmen did not apply themselves on a pitch that did not support bowlers at all, and their reckless shot selection proved to be fatal for their side in the match.

Dinesh Chandimal was dismissed playing poor strokes in both the innings. Upul Tharanga, who played extremely well for his 83 in the first essay, got out to a poor stroke again. While Steyn did not allow Mahela Jayawardene to flourish — getting him out early in both the innings — the needless stroke that Kumar Sangakkara played in the second innings, a mighty heave off a short ball by JP Duminy to be caught at short midwicket by Amla, is something that he would like to erase from his memories.

Angelo Mathews needs a lot of support lower down the order. The skipper applied himself well in both the innings but ran out of partners. Sri Lanka could do well with doing away with lot of irresponsible shots that they played in the first Test at Galle, as runs on the board always give the freedom and confidence to their bowlers to bowl freely. Sri Lanka can perhaps attack the South African spinners more, as Imran Tahir was not up to the mark and Duminy could make limited damage. This is one area where the Sri Lankans can exploit.

Jayawardene and Sangakkara are nearing their end. The former in fact announced that he would be retiring after the series against South Africa and Pakistan. So far, Sri Lankans have done well on the field to give fitting farewells to their greats. They would certainly not like a home Test series defeat in this successful and crucial span.

(Trailing 0-1 in the two-match Test series against South Africa at home, Sri Lanka will aim to get their act together and post a series levelling win at Colombo in the second Test. After all, the shocking loss in the opening Test match at Galle would have served as an alarm to the rebuilding side led by Angelo Mathews, says Devarchit Varma.

If there is one side that can be looked up to this year, it has to be Sri Lanka. Not only did they win everything that came their way since January, the icing on the cake proved to be their hard-fought victory in the Test series in England. The Lankans have been like men on a mission, setting examples for the other sides in the cricketing world. However, the shocking loss to a young South African side dented their performance in 2014, and this is something they would want to forget very soon.

No one would have expected South Africa sans the leadership of Graeme Smith or the brilliance of Jacques Kallis to win their first Test match on overseas soil under Hashim Amla. The South Africans have notoriously been slow starters in the recent Test series that they have played in the past couple of months. However, they set the tone early in this ongoing series and having taken the lead, they would be fancying an exclusive series win.

Sri Lanka do not have anyone but themselves to blame for the loss in the first Test. On a track that suited them with a potent spin attack, they allowed South Africa to put up a total in the first innings that not only looked intimidating but also hampered their chances of a comeback. Given the fact that South Africa are the only side with a bowling attack capable of winning Tests on any kind of track, a cautious approach could have served Sri Lanka better.

Dale Steyn wreaked havoc on the host batsmen, and their confidence certainly would have taken a hit after his performance in Galle. But they have to look for solutions inwards; the young Sri Lankan batsmen did not apply themselves on a pitch that did not support bowlers at all, and their reckless shot selection proved to be fatal for their side in the match.

Dinesh Chandimal was dismissed playing poor strokes in both the innings. Upul Tharanga, who played extremely well for his 83 in the first essay, got out to a poor stroke again. While Steyn did not allow Mahela Jayawardene to flourish — getting him out early in both the innings — the needless stroke that Kumar Sangakkara played in the second innings, a mighty heave off a short ball by JP Duminy to be caught at short midwicket by Amla, is something that he would like to erase from his memories.

Angelo Mathews needs a lot of support lower down the order. The skipper applied himself well in both the innings but ran out of partners. Sri Lanka could do well with doing away with lot of irresponsible shots that they played in the first Test at Galle, as runs on the board always give the freedom and confidence to their bowlers to bowl freely. Sri Lanka can perhaps attack the South African spinners more, as Imran Tahir was not up to the mark and Duminy could make limited damage. This is one area where the Sri Lankans can exploit.

Jayawardene and Sangakkara are nearing their end. The former in fact announced that he would be retiring after the series against South Africa and Pakistan. So far, Sri Lankans have done well on the field to give fitting farewells to their greats. They would certainly not like a home Test series defeat in this successful and crucial span.

Complete coverage of Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014 here

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)

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