South Africa won their second Test series in Sri Lanka, after 21 years, the last one being soon after their readmission to international cricket, during the tour in 1993. While South Africa dominated the Galle Test, the hosts were undoubtedly the better side at the SSC, Colombo. The Proteas however were at their dogged best on the last day, in the process escaping with a draw, and thus clinching the series while also reclaiming the number one Test ranking. Here's a look at the top performers of the Sri Lanka-South Africa series.
Angelo Mathews: The Sri Lankan captain was the highest run-getter in the series with 242 runs. He scored half-centuries during three of his four visits to the crease, and was unbeaten on two occasions, thus giving him an unbelievable average of 121. Mathews' highest score in the series was 89. The Lankans wouldn't have much reason to complain about their captain's performance. If anything, a hundred would have helped. Then again, it must be remembered that he bats lower down the order, and the responsibility of big scores should have been taken by the earlier batsmen.
Hashim Amla: The South African captain was close behind his Sri Lankan counterpart in terms of runs. He finished the series with 197 runs at an average of 65.6, with one hundred, his 139 in the first innings of the Colombo Test. While the number of runs he scored was important, equally significant was the amount of time he spent at the crease. When you look at the end result, Sri Lanka fell short of levelling the series by just two wickets. And the long vigils Amla had at the crease at Colombo was a major factor in South Africa's escape.
Mahela Jayawardene: The former Lankan skipper, who announced his decision to retire at the start of the South African series, played a typical home knock. It was fitting that his 165 came at Colombo, for here is where he has enjoyed most success. It was a sublime knock as expected. But, take that out, and he did not have much else to show, ending the series with 178 runs at an average of 44.5. Of course, he will be pleased to have completed 200 catches in Test cricket.
Dilruwan Perera: The Lankan off spinner was the most successful bowler in the series, with 16 wickets at an average of 23.12. Perera claimed five wickets in an innings once -- his best figures of 5 for 69. He had best match figures of 8 for 129. Perera impressed one and all with a strike rate of 59 and economy rate of 2.3. Clearly, a find for Sri Lanka even at the age of 32.
Dale Steyn: The South African spearhead was the one who made the big difference. He blew away Sri Lanka's batting unit, with some excellent support from Morne Morkel, and that pretty much sealed the series for them, in hindsight. Steyn claimed 13 wickets in the series at an average of 17.5 and a strike rate of 35, most of those coming in the Galle Test. His best figures in an innings were 5 for 54 and those in a match were 9 for 99. Not surprisingly, he was chosen the man of the series.
--By A Cricket Analyst