Watch how South Africa built a 170-run lead over Sri Lanka on day two of the second Test in Durban
18 February, 2019, 17:29
Kusal Perera produced a swashbuckling innings for the ages to nearly single-handedly lift Sri Lanka to a remarkable one-wicket win over South Africa in a nail-biting conclusion to the first Test.
Set a target of 304, Sri Lanka looked to be in control when Dhananjaya de Silva tried to mow Keshav Maharaj over deep mid-wicket and perished.
Sri Lankan cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara said Perera's performance "could be the greatest innings ever in an overseas run chase by a Sri Lankan batsman".
Sri Lanka's 304-9 was the third-highest successful run chase in almost 100 years of test cricket at the Kingsmead ground and the partnership between Perera and Fernando a record for the highest 10th-wicket partnership to win a test. Fernando faced only 27 of the 95 balls they were together as the visitors took their total from 226 for nine to the victory target of 304.
The impressive Embuldeniya had earlier claimed 5-66 and sparked a South Africa collapse as the hosts were bowled out for 259 in their second innings, leaving Sri Lanka to chase what seems an unlikely victory.
"I'm a little exhausted now".
Thirimanne fell for 21 to a sharp catch at second slip by South African captain Faf du Plessis when he edged an extravagant drive against Kagiso Rabada.
Perera was on 86 when the ninth wicket fell but managed to keep most of the strike and to hit some telling blows in an innings of 200 balls which included 12 fours and five sixes. "Especially good effort as a team, especially the lower-order batsmen there giving me support".
Sri Lanka had lost its last three series coming into this contest and had two debutants and a new captain for the first test, and two other bowlers with just seven tests between them. Sri Lanka is ranked No. 6.
Sri Lanka's top scorer in the first innings Kusal Perera and Oshada Fernando soldiered through the fading light, adding 31 runs to the team total before the players were hauled off the field.
"It was a superman effort", said Du Plessis.
Perera scored 67 of those 78 runs for the last wicket and won it with a late cut down to the boundary for four, prompting Sri Lankan players to sprint from the dressing room out onto the pitch to congratulate their match victor.
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took to the Twitter to praise the Sri Lanka Cricket team for their remarkable victory in the first Test match against South Africa in Durban today.
The second and final test of the series will be played in Port Elizabeth from February 21-25.
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