South Africa succumbed to their second defeat in Sri Lanka in the ongoing ODI series, which will make it extremely difficult for them to come back into the tussle from here onwards. Like in the first game, here again it was their batting that let them down. The present South African outfit just does not seem to possess the skill or the aptitude to bat it out under challenging circumstances. Of course, the constant rain on Tuesday at Colombo only made matters worse for them, and made the pitch extremely difficult to bat on. Still, South Africa were facing a target most other teams with decent batting talent would have surpassed.
South Africa were dealt with a body blow when the experienced Hashim Amla, their most consistent batsman could not open the batting having hurt himself badly while fielding on the soggy outfield. While that reduced South Africa’s chances of victory drastically, the others in the team needed to stand up. Skipper AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis were the three batsmen who needed to perform well for the Proteas to have a chance of winning the clash, but the trio disappointed, and that is where South Africa lost the match.
To be fair to the South Africans, the present squad perhaps just does not possess the talent needed to survive in tough Lankan conditions. Alviro Petersen has opened the batting for them for a while now, but has been out of sorts so far. Robin Peterson has been pushed up the order in the absence of two regular openers, but even he has failed to show the desired technique to deal with the conditions. As for David Miller, he is possibly batting too low down the order to make any significant kind of impact.
The good part for South Africa even in their defeat on Tuesday was that their bowling performance improved significantly in the match. For the second game in a row, Morne Morkel led the attack with vigour. His probing spell kept Lanka under check for a good part of the innings, and the fact that he kept striking at regular intervals also aided the team’s cause. For a change, Maorkel got good support from the rest of the bowlers as well. Peterson and Ryan McLaren, in particular, were impressive even as the rest chipped in too.
What Sri Lanka did very well with bat was hang in despite the conditions which favoured the bowling side. It was a struggle for their batsmen no doubt, but credibly they did not throw their wickets away. Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Dinesh Chandimal all compiled crucial knocks that ensured Sri Lanka were in with a chance in spite of the rain. When it was their turn to bowl, the Lankan bowlers also stepped up. Rangana Herath was particularly probing. His wickets put South Africa on the back foot even as Malinga, Perera and even Dilshan added to Proteas’ woes.
--By A Cricket Analyst