Sri lankan spinners toiled hard but failed to finish off the South African tail on a turning wicket © AFP
Sri lankan spinners toiled hard but failed to finish off the South African tail on a turning wicket © AFP

By Abhaya Srivastava

Colombo: July 28, 2014

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews on Monday lavished praise on his ace spinners for nearly winning his team the second Test against South Africa with a lion-hearted effort. The hosts were agonisingly close to victory, having taken eight wickets in the second innings, but South Africa’s tailenders hung on to snatch a draw in the end.


Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath was almost unplayable on a deceptively turning track at the SSC ground, conceding just 40 runs off 45 overs for five wickets. Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera was also effective, picking three for 60 off 44 overs.


The duo bowled relentlessly, helping Sri Lanka complete 94 overs on the fifth and final day despite several rain interruptions. “I’d like to make a special mention about Herath and Perera for the effort that they put in,” Mathews told reporters after the game ended. “They were unbelievable. It was always going to be hard to dismiss (the South Africans) but they put their hearts out to help us win the game. Unfortunately we could not pull it off.”


Mathews said the team was gutted because the draw handed South Africa their first Test series win on the island in 21 years. South Africa had won the opening Test in Galle by 153 runs to go 1-0 up in the two-Test series.


“We all wanted to win this game because we knew we didn’t play well in Galle. All of us were hungry to win this game. I saw that hunger in all the eleven of us but unfortunately the South Africans held on,” Mathews said.


The Sri Lankan skipper defended the ploy to play three specialist spinners in the match although Ajantha Mendis came a cropper with the ball, going wicketless in the two innings.


“We had to take that chance. We knew our seamers won’t trouble them as much our spinners. We thought Mendis could make a difference but he had quite a bad game,” he said.


Complete coverage of South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 here