Anrich Nortje, Wiaan Mulder and Dean Elgar contributed to a wonderful day of test cricket for South Africa against Sri Lanka in the second Betway test at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Nortje claimed his career-best test figures of 6-56 while Mulder claimed 3-25 to dismantle Sri Lanka for just 157 after Dimuth Karunaratne had won the toss and elected to bat first.
“I think at Centurion we were a little too wide and both sides of the wicket. This time around we wanted to keep it simple and tighter. We wanted to bowl in the channel and we created some bowling partnerships and create the pressure,” said Nortje via video conference after the day’s play.
Sri Lanka lost their last nine wickets for just 86 runs with only Kusal Perera top-scoring with a quickfire 60, which included 11 boundaries off just 67 balls.
“In these conditions I like the pace and bounce,” said Perera after the day’s play. “I am trying to score runs and play my normal game. I am always trying to get used to pace and bounce and when they give me a loose ball I am going to hit it,” added Perera.
“He batted really well. Anything that was too full he would go after it. Obviously we would like to change the game plan to him next time, maybe be more tighter,” said Nortje.
Once Perera was dismissed, only Dushmantha Chameera (22) and Wanindu Hasaranga (29) provided any meaning to the Sri Lankan effort. But once Perera departed, the rest of the Sri Lankan batting line-up just wilted with nine of the 10 wickets to fall being caught behind or in the gully region while Nortje’s final wicket, that of Asitha Fernando, was clean-bowled.
“I do not know why they failed. But you have to get used to the conditions and with a lot of wickets being dismissed behind the wickets, I don’t think that they got used to the pace and bounce,” said Perera.
Mulder did the initial damage with three wickets for just a single as the visitors went to lunch on 84-5. But Nortje, who claimed the other two wickets before lunch, was chief destroyer in the middle session, claiming 4-23 as the visiting Islanders were decimated.
“He (Mulder) bowled really well, especially at the start. All credit must go to him,” said Nortje.
South Africa went to tea on the first day at 22 without loss with Elgar on 19 and Aiden Markram on three. Markram, who made 68 in the first test, was only able to add two runs to his tea-time score and was caught at second slip by Kusal Mendis off debutant Asitha Fernando (10-2-30-1).
That was the only success that the visiting team would taste as Elgar (92 not out) and Rassie van der Dussen (40 not out) put together an unbeaten 114-run stand for the second wicket to take their side to the close on 148 for one, just nine runs behind Sri Lanka’s first innings score.
“It was important to bowl the dot balls, create the pressure and then take the wickets. The boys played really well this afternoon, they assessed the conditions and situation really well and then later on they scored the runs,” said Nortje.
“We just want to bat once I suppose, Rassie soaked up a lot of pressure, scoring his first runs after twenty-something balls,” added Nortje.
Elgar will be weary after having been dismissed for 95 in the first test and will look to close out on his test century as quickly as possible. Van der Dussen, who took 26 balls to score his first run, turned up the heat and looked solid, striking six fours along the way.
“It was a great way to start the year off, obviously after Centurion, we wanted to improve as a bowling unit, especially with Lungi bowling the way he did,” said Nortje.
Elgar, who has faced 119 deliveries, struck 16 boundaries while bringing up his 16th test half-century.
Sri Lanka are certainly missing some of their experienced campaigners but Asitha Fernando bowled extremely well and did not let the occasion get to him but it was Dasun Shanaka who was the pick of the bowlers, conceding just 13 runs in his six overs while Chameera was the most expensive, leaking 34 runs in seven overs.