Dimuth karunaratne was named MoM for registering match aggregate of 218 runs in a low scoring Test © Getty Images
Dimuth Karunaratne was named MoM for registering match aggregate of 218 runs in a low-scoring Test © Getty Images

South Africa got all out for 73, their lowest score in the sub-continent behind the 79 that they managed against India at Nagpur in 2015, and lost to Sri Lanka by a huge margin of 278 runs in the first Test at Galle here. Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera had the South African batsmen on the mat with their intricate spin bowling on a helpful pitch. This has been a trend noticed with regularity on the Galle International Stadium in the past few years where visiting teams, with the possible exception of India last year, have fallen off like a pack of cards against Herath & Co.

Sri Lanka captain Suranga Lakmal started off with Herath and Perera who wrecked havoc on the South African batsmen on a decent enough 3rd-day pitch. Perera had a dream match with match figures of 10/78 taking 4/46 in the first innings and topping it off with career-best 6/32 in the second. Herath played the supporting role for a change in this match with a match haul of 5/77. None of the South African batsmen had answers to the persistent loop and guile of the Sri Lankan spinners. It seems as if the ghosts of Nagpur 2015 came back to haunt them and on a better pitch than the VCA track 3 years ago, their technique against spin was found wanting once more.

Only Vernon Philander batted with some freedom and hit two sixes in his 18 which was the highest amongst the South African batsmen in the second innings. In the final analysis, his knock meant nothing as the South Africans were chasing a relatively big score of 352.

Dimuth Karunaratne was named Man of the match for his superb batting in trying circumstances where he came up with a prescient 158* in the first innings and a breezy 60 in the second.

The teams would now travel to Colombo for the second test which kicks off on 20th July at the SSC. The South Africans would take solace from the fact that the SSC pitch does offer some help to seamers but it all depends on how the track has been made this time around.