Steyn, Morkel Bowl SA to Big Win!

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel bowled South Africa to only their third Test win in Sri Lanka with 16 wickets in Galle, including seven on the final day. South Africa’s lone specialist spinner Imran Tahir went wicketless in the final innings, but that did not prevent them from wrapping up proceedings before tea to start Hashim Amla’s captaincy on a high in the country where they last lost an away Test series, in 2006.

Kumar Sangakkara was the biggest obstacle in the visitors’ path, and he was dropped off Morkel, but gave away his wicket to a JP Duminy long hop to complete a perfect morning session for South Africa. Sri Lanka began the day on 110 for 1, 260 runs adrift of the target of 370. Sangakkara had come into the match with a record seven successive fifty-plus scores and had looked in no trouble in the first innings before chopping a pull on to his stumps off a wide delivery. He had purred his way to 58 on the fourth afternoon, and Kaushal Silva had defended and left superbly in an unbroken 96-run partnership. South Africa’s spinners had bowled too many boundary balls.

The onus was on the fast bowlers on the fifth morning, and they promptly stepped up. Morkel hit Silva in the opening over and also beat him. Steyn had Sangakkara edging first ball but it did not carry to the cordon. In his second over, he had Silva pushing at one close to off stump and de Kock pulled off a diving one-handed take to his right.

Four balls later, Morkel had Sangakkara driving but de Kock put down a simpler chance. Sangakkara was on 65. Amla used his fast bowlers in short spells and Steyn and Morkel gave way to Vernon Philander and Tahir. The legspinner bowled with much better control than at any time in the match. But neither he nor Philander carried the threat Steyn and Morkel did. Tahir offered the inevitable full toss and Jayawardene deposited it over midwicket. Next ball, Sangakkara clipped Philander through midwicket for four more.

Amla brought Morkel back immediately after drinks and the fast bowler had Jayawardene feathering the first ball following the break through to the keeper. Jayawardene had looked ultra-cautious during his 31-ball stay and it was a top delivery to nail him, holding the line just outside off.

Morkel was given just two overs in that spell, and replaced with Duminy, who began with possibly one of the longest long hops ever. It was a half tracker that sat up way outside off stump, but Sangakkara picked out Amla at midwicket, the pull causing his downfall again. De Kock’s drop had cost South Africa just 11.

Amla was on a roll now with the bowling changes. In came Steyn again. Thirimanne had tended to drive with an open face in the first innings too, and Steyn had him edging behind in his second over on return. Amla saw the chance to squeeze in another over from Morkel before lunch. Dinesh Chandimal was hurried on the hook by a bouncer and given caught behind by umpire Billy Bowden. Replays were not conclusive enough to prove there was no glove before the ball flicked the left sleeve, and Chandimal’s review was in vain.

Sri Lanka had lost 5 for 40 in 18.2 overs, and Angelo Mathews had been left alone on the burning deck again. Like in the first innings, he fought. Like in the first innings, Rangana Herath fought with him briefly. South Africa could not bring down Mathews, but they eventually broke through at the other end.

Sri Lanka sent out the injured Shaminda Eranga to bat for the second time in the match, but Morkel ended the match with two wickets in two balls.