Kusal Perera, the Player of the Match in the first Test at Kingsmead, admitted to being ‘a bit tired’ at the post-match awards ceremony.
‘I am bit tired now,’ said an exhausted-looking Perera. ‘I don’t know what to say. The lower order supported well. I believed myself in that time, and we did it. Still I am thinking I did my part. This is a really special win for us. We did a lot of homework, a lot of hard work.’
Comments online on Twitter and popular cricket websites highlighted Perera’s bold batting to take on the Proteas bowling and fight through to the end, but there was also criticism from many quarters for Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis’ reluctance to attack Perera as the Sri Lankan middle-order batsman farmed the strike superbly in building his incredible innings of 153 not out off 200 balls.
‘Incredible game of cricket. Very disappointing to end on the losing side,’ said Du Plessis. ‘As fans, that’s the kind of Test match you want to watch. Superman effort from Perera to get those runs. I think we were 50 runs short in the first innings and another 30-50 in the second.
‘I still thought 300 was enough, but great batting took it away from us. Towards the end we got a few balls at the tailender, but there were a few plays and misses. One of them could have been a nick. We lost Vern, but with three seamers and Keshav I would have still backed my side. But you have to give credit where it’s due,’ added a disappointed Du Plessis.
‘That was a really good game,’ beamed Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne. ‘We had a tough series in Australia, but we learnt well. We have lost a lot of matches in the last few years, so it’s a proud moment for us, the team, and for me as captain.
‘I think he [Kusal Perera] batted really well, getting a hundred in South Africa is not easy against this fast bowling attack. The two debutants did really well. Fernando also did a really good job with the ball and then he supported Kusal as well.’
The second Test is scheduled for Port Elizabeth, starting on Thursday 21 February.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images