South Africa Hang On For Series Win
Sri Lanka 421 & 229-8 dec. drew with
South Africa 282 & 159-8 (Herath 5-40)
Second Test, Colombo
South Africa held on with eight wickets down to draw the second and final Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, with it sealing a 1-0 series win and returning to the top of the ICC Test rankings.
The final day was interrupted by the occasional rain shower but South Africa's defiance - and defence - won out in the end despite spinners Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera bowling 89 overs in the second innings between them.
Herath returned five for 40 and Perera three for 60 but were stonewalled by Hashim Amla (25 in 159 balls), AB de Villiers (12 in 67) and JP Duminy (3 in 66) before Vernon Philander, unbeaten on 27, and Imran Tahir, not out on four, survived for eight overs and one ball after Dale Steyn fell for six.
Having been set 369 to win, and needing a further 331 on the final day, South Africa closed on 159 for eight as Philander, Steyn and Tahir batted for more than 17 overs to frustrate Sri Lanka.
After winning the opening Test in Galle by 153 runs, the draw gives South Africa a first series win in Sri Lanka since 1993.
They also overtake Australia to go back to the top of the Test rankings, providing Amla with the perfect start to his career as Test captain.
South Africa resumed the day on 38 for one and had not made much progress when Dean Elgar was bowled by Perera for 13, a sharp spinning delivery completely beating him.
Quinton de Kock (37 in 92 balls) and Amla then came together and batted out another 15 overs - runs having quickly become the secondary measure of the Proteas' progress.
De Kock fell when he gloved a ball that leapt out of the rough to Kithruwan Vithanage at short leg.
Captain Amla and de Villiers then moved the score along to 93, batting for almost 25 overs to steer South Africa towards tea.
Herath struck to bowl de Villiers and when Perera had the obstinate Amla caught by Mahela Jayawardene just after the break, Sri Lanka had one of the six wickets they needed in the final session to win.
Du Plessis was also caught by Jayawardene as Herath grabbed another wicket but Duminy, just as he was in the first innings, was not going to be removed without a serious fight.
He offered Sri Lanka nothing during a 66-ball stay at the crease that was finally ended when he was trapped in front by Perera. Inevitably, he reviewed the decision, although it was comfortably upheld.
Steyn hit a four early on in his innings and his six runs came from 28 deliveries but another nine overs had been used up by the time he edged Herath to Niroshan Dickwella behind the stumps.
Philander stood form at one end, making 27 in 97 balls, many of those runs coming as Sri Lanka brought in a plethora of close fielders, leaving wide gaps in the deep.
Tahir, meanwhile, faced 21 balls and hit a single boundary, also adding to the drama - although not intentionally - by going down with cramp before the final over was bowled.
He was down, but crucially not out, and fortunately enough for him, it was Philander who had to face the final six deliveries from Herath, successfully seeing his side through to stumps and a historic series win.
© Cricket World 2014