After going down by 206 runs in the First Test at Port Elizabeth against South Africa, SL succumbed to their first defeat in 5 Test matches, thereby breaking the winning streak. On a pitch where they were expected to be most comfortable, the islanders were found themselves being undone by Vernon Philander, Kyle Abbot and co.
It was an ordinary performance from a young bunch of cricketers under a their skipper Angelo Matthews who is a new entrant as captain of the Sri Lankan team in the longest format of the game. Batting performances from the top order batsmen were a replica of the fact that the islanders were missing their three big guns at the top in Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
Their bowling too is heavily reliant on Rangana Herath, who is also on the wane of his career. Although Suranga Lakmal was impressive with the ball in the first innings, the bowling line up still lacks the pace and the firepower.
South Africa on the other hand looked the better of the two teams. Playing at home they extracted the best out of the conditions and was the superior of the two teams. Everything fell in place as they team blend well with a mix of young and experienced cricketers.
Now the second of the three Test matches is to be played at Cape Town from Monday. Whereas the Proteas will be confident of keeping up the good show, the Sri Lankans have their work cut out. They have to win the Test match in order to square the series so that the final one becomes a decider.
Newlands like a typical South African wicket has nice pace , bounce and carry. SL batsmen will have to come to terms with the conditions pretty quickly in order to throw a challenge to the opposition. It will be a tough challenge for the young team as it has many players who are playing for the very first time in such diverse conditions.
If it can be seen from the other way round, it presents an excellent opportunity for the young team to put up a good fight especially when it is in its transitional phase.