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South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2019: Tough to get over Kusal Perera's 'Superman effort' that snatched victory from the Proteas

Sachin Iyer
ANALYST
Feature
334   //    17 Feb 2019, 13:00 IST

South Africa v Sri Lanka- 1st Test
South Africa v Sri Lanka- 1st Test

On Saturday, Kingsmead witnessed one of the greatest climaxes to a Test match. Chasing a target of 304 in the 4th innings, Sri Lanka were staring defeat in the eye at 226/9. But when everyone thought it was just a formality for Dale Steyn and company to wrap it up for South Africa, Kusal Janith Perera showed that he had other plans.

Along with Vishwa Fernando, Perera helped the Lankans cross the line with one wicket to spare. Perera scored 153 runs off 200 balls with 12 fours and 5 magnificent sixes.

The losing captain Faf du Plessis termed it a 'Superman effort'.

While chasing a score of 304, the visitors lost three wickets in quick succession and were pushed to 52/3, with Perera and Oshada Fernando trying to build a partnership. Steyn then had a double wicket over, scalping Oshada and Niroshan Dickwella, which made a huge dent in the Lankans' hopes.

But Dhananjaya de Silva gave good support to Perera, making the story interesting. Right then came Keshav Maharaj, who took two consecutive wickets, giving his side firm control. The LBW decision against De Silva was initially turned down by the umpires, but Maharaj took the review to turn it his way.

Sri Lanka lost some more wickets cheaply and the scorecard soon read 226/9. While the wickets were tumbling though, there was one man still scoring at every opportunity he got.

When all seemed lost, Perera started scoring boundaries every loose ball he received . Fernando on the other end did exactly what he was asked to - block everything away.

The duo faced 95 deliveries in their unbroken partnership, where Perera scored 67 runs from 68 balls and Fernando added 6 crucial runs from 27 balls.

''He deserves all the accolades that come to him after this game. I'd be lying if I say there wasn't emotions going through me on the inside. Difficult for a captain, tactically,'' were Du Plessis' words after the match.

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There were plenty of drama towards the end where overthrows, unorthodox shots and wides all went Sri Lanka's way.

This was also the highest 10th wicket partnership in the 4th innings to win a first-class match. Many experts are rating this innings alongside the historic 153* by Brian Lara against Australia in 1999.

Either way, Perera's 153 will long be considered one of the greatest 4th innings knocks in the history of Test cricket.

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