There were plenty of apprehensions over how South Africa would fare in Sri Lanka considering their poor past record in the country. Also, they were beginning a new era under Hashim Amla as captain. The fact that they won the ODI series, which preceded the Tests would have definitely given them confidence, and they were brilliant all-round throughout the Test as they registered a rare win in the island nation. Here’s a look at five South Africans who played a stellar role in a victory.
Dale Steyn: The South African pacer was undoubtedly the standout performer. For a fast bowler to claim nine wickets in a Test in Lanka is something special, and Steyn’s effort at Galle was nothing short of ordinary. He ran in hard and gave it his everything to emerge as the man on the match on a surface that has been a haven for spinners, and hell for fast bowlers over the years. Steyn has tasted success in most countries around the world, but he would look back at his match-winning effort at Galle with plenty of pride.
Dean Elgar: The new South African opener would have been under extreme pressure as he went into the Test. In spite of a great domestic record, and some exposure at the international level, stepping into the giant boots of Graeme Smith was never going to be easy. Elgar though demonstrated that years of first-class cricket can indeed aid you when you take on the tougher challenges. South Africa were batting first at Galle, and needed a bright start. Elgar provided the same with a magnificent century which he will remember forever. It set the platform for a challenging first-innings South African total.
JP Duminy: In recent times, Duminy has played some very crucial knocks for his side. His hundred at Galle would be rated right among his best. South Africa had collapsed after a great start, and were in danger of blowing away a great opportunity. This is where Duminy stood up to the challenge. His unbeaten 100 played a pivotal role in helping the visitors recover as they posted 455. Duminy chipped in with the ball as well, dismissing Tharanga in the first innings, and Sangakkara in the second, both were well set.
Morne Morkel: As he been over the years, Morkel turned out to be the perfect foil for Steyn at Galle as well. Morkel claimed 3 for 49 in the first innings, including that of Sangakkara, and 4 for 29 in the second innings – this time getting Jayawardene and Chandimal. With Morkel among the wickets, there was no respite for the Lankans whatsoever.
Quinton de Kock: TheSouth African wicket-keeper batsman’s contribution went rather unnoticed among the rest, but he played a crucial role. He got a half-century in the first innings, and followed it up with quick 36 in the second. Behind the stumps, he effected one stumping and held as many as eight catches.
--By A Cricket Analyst