Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne believes the Port Elizabeth pitch offers the tourists the chance to make history in South Africa this week.

After the sensational one-wicket victory in the first contest in Durban, Sri Lanka could claim their first Test-series win in South Africa if they can avoid defeat at St George's Park.

Kusal Perera rescued the tourists at Kingsmead with an incredible batting performance that saw him score 153 of their 304-run second-innings target.

Karunaratne hopes the rest of his side's batting line-up will be able to assist more in Port Elizabeth, particularly on a pitch that is not as conducive to fast bowling like the ones in previous Tests.

"We had a tough two games in Australia on fast and bouncy wickets," the skipper told reporters.

"We consistently got pitches where bowlers were bowling 150kph. But I told my team-mates that here it's much easier than in Australia.

"You have to get better, from that experience. You have to keep your head clear and play positively. 

"I think we saw that in the last game. This Port Elizabeth pitch is a pretty good wicket compared to the others, like Johannesburg, which is fast and bouncy. We have a good batting wicket here.

"We came here to win matches, I just want to make sure the boys give their maximum each day."

 

 

Faf du Plessis warned South Africa must raise their game if they are to avoid a first home Test series defeat to Sri Lanka.

Kusal Perera was the hero with a magnificent unbeaten 153 to seal a sensational one-wicket victory in the first Test at Kingsmead.

Du Plessis said the Proteas were taken by surprise in Durban, having gone into the match as strong favourites given the on and off-field issues Sri Lanka have had to contend with.

South Africa have won five and drawn one of their last six Tests in Port Elizabeth, but captain Du Plessis knows they will have to step it up to avoid making unwanted history.

"We're very proud about our record - we have made sure that we've made our home a fortress," said the skipper.

"For the last two years or so, I don't think we played a bad game against Sri Lanka at home. But we need to be better to beat them."

The batsman added: "They surprised us with the way they played in Durban, but here there will be bit of sideways movement.

"In Durban, there's not a lot of that. Kingsmead has always [offered] a five-wicket haul for spinners. Here, although the spinner plays a role, I don't think that much help will be there."

All-rounder Wiaan Mulder could make his South Africa Test debut in the absence of Vernon Philander (hamstring).

 

 

South Africa have confirmed Vernon Philander will miss the second Test against Sri Lanka due to a hamstring problem.

The injury-prone seamer bowled only eight overs in the second innings of the opening Test at Kingsmead as the tourists chased down 304 to win by one wicket in remarkable scenes.

And if the Proteas are to prevail in Port Elizabeth and secure a 1-1 series draw, they will have to do so without Philander, who has 214 Test wickets at an average of 21.64.

"Injury update from the Proteas camp: Vernon Philander will miss the second Test against Sri Lanka due to a hamstring injury. There will be no replacement added to the squad," read a Cricket South Africa statement.

The second Test at St George's Park gets under way on Thursday.

Stuart Broad believes recent events indicate sledging will be less of a factor in the 2019 Ashes between England and Australia. 

The five-match series begins at Edgbaston on August 1 and Broad expects the tourists to be on their best behaviour as Australia continue to rebuild their reputation following last year's ball-tampering scandal. 

But the bowler also pointed to the actions of Joe Root last week, the England skipper earning praise for challenging a comment from West Indies bowler Shannon Gabriel. 

"If the stump mics had been turned up in 2017-18, the umpires would have been a lot busier than they have been this week, the way the Australians went about their business," Broad wrote in the Daily Mail. 

"I don't think it will be an overly verbal series this summer because Australia will be under pressure to maintain their new culture of behaviour, and the kind of guy their captain Tim Paine is, I am not sure he would stand for too much nonsense. 

"As we have seen this week, Joe Root doesn't either and we saw great leadership from him on the field. It wasn't a set-up, he wasn’t told to say that. Those were his natural emotions coming out." 

England avoided a whitewash with a 232-run win in the third Test against West Indies last week and Broad is bullish about the team's Ashes chances on home soil.

"We know it will be fiercely competitive for sure, that they have a strong team and it will arguably be stronger with players like Steve Smith and David Warner coming back," he added. 

"But we know we're a good team and we got back to our strengths this week, with the return of our engine room of Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali at numbers six, seven, eight, and Joe Root coming into the runs at a good time for us. 

"I would imagine we will go in as favourites. Australia haven't won an Ashes series in England since 2001 and it's really tough to win away from home these days. 

"India came to us last year as the world's number one Test team and lost 4-1, then went to Australia and won. Winning away from home is tough and we have to make it as hard for the Australians as we possibly can. 

"The first Test is in Birmingham and that means it’s going to be lively. It's one of the best atmospheres we get and I don't think those in the Eric Hollies Stand are going to allow Smith and Warner to return quietly." 

Kusal Perera deserves all the praise that comes his way for steering Sri Lanka to an unlikely opening-Test win for his "Superman" effort with the bat, said losing South Africa captain Faf du Plessis.

Sri Lanka appeared to be on a hiding to nothing in Durban when, chasing 304 for victory, the tourists fell to 226-9 from 83-3 on day four.

But Perera, on 86 at that point, produced a masterclass for the ages and his unbroken stand of 78 with Vishwa Fernando – a record 10th-wicket, fourth-innings partnership for a winning side in Test cricket – steered Sri Lanka to a one-wicket triumph.

Proteas skipper Du Plessis concedes his side could do nothing to get Perera, who finished a career-best 153 not out, off strike and recognised the match was a great advert for fans of five-day cricket.

"It was an incredible game of cricket. We're very disappointed to end on the losing side, but to have it to go down to nine wickets and a 78-run partnership at the end is great for the game of Test cricket," he said. 

"You could tell the fans were excited about it and, I suppose, as fans, that's the kind of Test match you want to see. 

"Well played to Sri Lanka. Obviously Perera was unbelievable. It took a Superman effort. He deserves all of the accolades that will come to him after this game."

Du Plessis admitted that the manner of the defeat was a tough one to take.

"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't emotions going through me on the inside. The legs underneath the water paddling, a little bit of that. It's difficult for a captain," he added. 

"You want to protect a lead and then you also understand that you want to try to bowl at the tailender. 

"He played that beautifully. Whatever we tried, he still managed to get one away or a boundary away, every over, every over.

"Towards the end, we got a few balls at the tailender but unfortunately there were a few plays and misses."

Paul Farbrace is to leave his position as England assistant coach after their tour of the Caribbean to take up the role as sporting director at Warwickshire.

The highly regarded coach is taking up a position left vacant by Ashley Giles, who departed Edgbaston to become managing director of England Men's Cricket.

Farbrace initially joined the England set-up as assistant to Peter Moores in 2014 having led Sri Lanka to World Twenty20 glory.

The timing of the 51-year-old's decision comes as somewhat of a surprise with a Cricket World Cup and a home Ashes series against Australia on the horizon in the coming months.

"I have had five fantastic years with England Cricket. It has been a brilliant experience working with world-class coaches, players and support staff," Farbrace, who will start with Warwickshire in March after England's T20I series against West Indies, told the ECB's official website.

"I have been fortunate to taste some genuine success and be part of the development of some excellent players, who have the world at their feet this summer.

"There is never a great time to leave an international set-up and despite what will be a fantastic summer for English cricket, the opportunity to shape the future of one of the game's biggest counties was too much to resist. 

"It would have been tough for me to have turned down the opportunity once Warwickshire showed an interest in me.

"Finally, I would like to thank the ECB, and in particular, Trevor Bayliss, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root and Ashley Giles for their support in what has been a difficult decision to make. 

"I wish them every success this summer. I believe they have the right attributes to create history by lifting the World Cup in July and winning The Ashes that follows it."

Alongside head coach Trevor Bayliss, who will not be renewing his own contract when it expires in September, Farbrace has been instrumental in turning around England's fortunes in white-ball cricket.

Four years ago, England were reeling from being knocked out of the World Cup group stages, but are now the number-one ranked ODI side.

"I would like to thank Paul for all his efforts over the last five years as a key figure in England's success across the red and white ball formats," Giles said.

"Paul was integral, alongside, Andrew Strauss, Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan, in transforming our white ball strategy, which has seen us become the best team in the world leading into a World Cup year.

"His efforts in developing players in the elite environment will benefit him in his new role at Edgbaston.

"I will now start the process to find a successor and work closely with our existing set-up to ensure we have everything in place ahead of a busy summer of international cricket."

Kusal Perera incredibly deflected praise onto his Sri Lanka team-mates despite a phenomenal individual effort in the one-wicket win over South Africa.

Perera, who started and ended day four at the crease, compiled a sensational unbeaten 153 and dominated a 10th-wicket stand of 78 to guide the tourists to an unlikely victory in Durban, after the Proteas had appeared to be in complete control.

Sri Lanka were reduced from an overnight score of 83-3 to 226-9 on Saturday as they pursued 304 for victory, yet Perera almost single-handedly secured an improbable series lead with an astonishing display.

The batsman's breathless exploits had taken their toll by the time of the post-match presentation, but he was keen for his colleagues to be credited, too.

"I'm really tired now," he admitted, before adding: "I don't know what to say.

"All the batsmen gave me good support and, all that time, I believed in myself. We did it. I was just thinking that I did my part, but we were winning as a team.

"We had done a lot of homework in the recent past, so this was a really special win for us. We did a lot of hard work previously."

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne was similarly eager to share the praise as he hailed his "remarkable" star man while also recognising the contributions of debutants Oshada Fernando and Lasith Embuldeniya.

"[Perera] batted really well," the skipper said. "He's one of the most experienced guys in the side, but this hundred is remarkable.

"Getting a hundred in South Africa is not easy against a top-class fast bowling attack.

"But even the two debutants did really well. Oshada batted really well and Embuldeniya clearly did a good job [taking five wickets in South Africa's second innings]. That's what we need. As a team, we need to play as a unit and do our best."

Kusal Perera remarkably dominated a record-breaking 10th-wicket partnership with Vishwa Fernando to carry Sri Lanka to a sensational one-wicket win over South Africa in a dramatic first Test.

Having been set 304 to win in Durban, Sri Lanka's hopes looked to be over when they slipped from an overnight score of 83-3 to 226-9 on day four.

Perera was unbeaten on 86 when the ninth wicket fell but almost single-handedly guided Sri Lanka to victory thereafter, hogging the strike and reaching 153 not out in an unbroken stand of 78 with Fernando, who faced 27 balls to make six.

Sri Lanka were therefore able to claim a 1-0 series lead, with the masterclass from Perera - whose previous Test best was 110 - leaving the hosts stunned.

Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed had shared the previous highest 10th-wicket partnership to win a Test in the fourth innings, putting on 57 against Australia in Karachi in 1994.

Former Australia captain Michael Clarke is keen to see Steve Smith and David Warner back in international cricket as soon as possible ahead of the conclusion of their suspensions.

Both Smith and Warner, along with Cameron Bancroft, were handed lengthy bans for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

Bancroft has now returned from his suspension, while Smith and Warner will be available for selection from March 29.

The pair reportedly will not make their comebacks until Australia face New Zealand in World Cup warm-up matches, rather than playing the last two one-day internationals against Pakistan, but Clarke wants to see them reinstated swiftly.

"It's going to be really interesting to see how the three of them go when they are back in the same team together," Clarke told Fox Sports. "How is the relationship between Warner and Smith or Bancroft and Warner?

"But, for Australian cricket, there's absolutely no doubt that we need them back. They deserve to come back because they've done their crime, and they've suffered their time.

"They'll scores runs, there is no doubt about. They'll walk back into that team and perform straight away."

Yet Clarke is also keen to ease the pressure on Smith and Warner, believing they cannot inspire success alone.

"We're putting a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure on Steve Smith and David Warner [as if] all of our problems will be fixed when they come back," he added.

"The reality is we have got to number five in the world with Smith and Warner in the team. Sports teams are a lot bigger than one or two players."

Mark Wood said he felt like a "superhero" as he tore through West Indies in a ferocious spell to set up a consolation Test victory for England in St Lucia.

The paceman's career has been blighted by injuries, but he made up for lost time by claiming a maiden five-wicket haul with first-innings figures of 5-41 last weekend.

Playing his first Test since last May, Wood provided the hostility the tourists had been lacking and the quick even surprised himself with the pace he generated in England's 232-run win.

He told The Guardian: "You almost feel like a superhero. I've been playing Mario Kart recently and yeah, it's like when you get a magic mushroom and you're just absolutely flying."

Wood added: "I'll never forget the feeling of that spell. If I'm ever down about my bowling I'll re-watch the highlights. 

"I've watched them about 20 times already – probably more. This will sound bad but seeing it back I just thought: 'Wow, that's me.' I couldn't believe how well I bowled and how fast it looked on TV. I was so happy."

Wood's Man-of-the-Match left him feeling emotional after spending so much time in the treatment room over the years.

"I held the ball up and felt so proud, then I got into the pavilion, had a hug with the physio Craig de Weymarn – he's touched me in places my wife never has! – and it all sunk in," said the 29-year-old. 

"It was everything I'd wanted after all I'd been through with injury. I know it's only one five-for and there's Jimmy [James Anderson] and Broady [Stuart Broad] with tons of them, but it was so special.

"I felt I finally belonged in the England Test team. I put the ball in my England cap, sat them next to me and just looked at them. All the emotions came out. I was a bit teary."

South Africa collapsed after lunch on day three in Durban to bring Sri Lanka back into the first Test as they chase 304 for victory.

The Proteas looked to be in complete control at the end of the first session at Kingsmead, even after losing Quinton de Kock (55), with their lead standing at 271 runs.

But the hosts added only 32 to that total after the restart as Sri Lanka took five wickets - including that of Faf du Plessis (90) - for just eight runs in a dominant spell, inspired by debutant Lasith Embuldeniya's 5-66.

That flurry ensured a more attainable target for the tourists and they were still in the contest at stumps, with Kusal Perera (12 not out) and Oshada Fernando (28 no) battling away on 83-3, 221 short of an unlikely triumph.

Already in a commanding position, South Africa cruised through the first session of day three as Du Plessis and De Kock built a partnership of 96.

Kusal Mendis was substituted out for a time as a Du Plessis edge did not carry and he was hurt in stooping for the catch, before insult was added to injury when an overthrow provided De Kock with a 56-ball half-century.

However, a rare De Kock error saw the Proteas star waste a review on a blatant lbw as he was trapped by Embuldeniya to halt the stand short of three figures.

It initially appeared to matter little, yet the match turned dramatically in the second session.

Vernon Philander was the first to go as he was beaten by Embuldeniya, before Du Plessis followed via a straightforward lbw decision off Vishwa Fernando (4-71) just before a drinks break.

South Africa's lower order never recovered and Embuldeniya swiftly added Kagiso Rabada, with Vishwa removing Keshav Maharaj and Dale Steyn to suddenly conclude the innings.

Keen to seize this improbable opportunity, Sri Lanka made a solid start with the bat as Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne paired for 42.

But the duo departed in quick succession with Rabada snaring Thirimanne while Karunaratne went to a tight lbw call, and then Mendis sent a cheap edge behind for a duck to hand Duanne Olivier a wicket.

Bad light stopped play for the day as Sri Lanka steadied the ship through Perera and Oshada, with plenty of work left to do but the tourists at least in with a fighting chance.

Moeen Ali believes sledging should always be audible on stump microphones after Shannon Gabriel was charged by the ICC for comments made to England captain Joe Root.

The West Indies bowler admitted breaching article 2.13 of the ICC Code of Conduct, which relates to "personal abuse of a player, player support personnel, umpire or match referee during an international match", after an exchange with Root in the third Test. He was given a four-match ban.

Gabriel offered an "unreserved apology" and revealed that he had said to Root: "Why are you smiling at me? Do you like boys?"

The incident came to light after Root's response was heard on the stump mics. "Don't use it as an insult," the England skipper said. "There's nothing wrong with being gay."

And now Moeen believes television coverage should regularly pick up conversations between the players, seeing it as a good way to punish any insults while also highlighting potentially humorous exchanges.

"It's time for people to behave themselves," Moeen said. "Turn the stump mics up. Why turn them down? So people can swear? There is no reason to get personal.

"It's a shame, because Shannon Gabriel is a really nice guy and a quiet person. But it's the way society is: things come out of people's mouths. You're not going to get away with it now. You have to be careful."

Keen not to eradicate sledging, though, the England all-rounder added: "Imagine all the legendary old stories, if we had them recorded. We can do the same now.

"It doesn't have to be swearing. Keep it funny. We want people to be attracted to the game.

"There's brilliant ways to sledge. If you don't think they are good, tell them. Sledge them about their cricket. Just don't go personal. Turn the mics up."

Shannon Gabriel has been banned for four matches for abusive language toward another player. But the ban has brought with it questions and for the second day in a row, the SportsMax Zone panel takes a critical look at the issues.

Dale Steyn moved level with Stuart Broad in the list of all-time Test wicket takers as South Africa seized control of the first Test with Sri Lanka.

South Africa were dismissed for just 235 on the opening day in Durban, but day two saw Sri Lanka falter even more severely as Steyn took centre stage to climb into a tie for seventh on the list with 437 wickets.

The pace bowler claimed three scalps on Thursday to record figures of 4-48 as Sri Lanka were all out for just 191.

Only three quicks – Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath and James Anderson – have more scalps in the longest format.

Sri Lanka bowled with purpose as they sought to limit the hosts' lead, but South Africa closed on 126-4 to move 170 runs ahead.

And, with only South Africa having chased down over 200 at Kingsmead since the turn of the century, Sri Lanka's task in the fourth innings appears destined to be a futile one.

The tourists started the day on 49-1 but added only two more runs before Steyn had Oshada Fernando trapped in front.

Just 10 balls later Dimuth Karunaratne went in the same circumstances to Vernon Philander, who then saw off Kusal Mendis for 12.

Niroshan Dickwella soon followed him back to the pavilion, with Kusal Perera (51) the only steadying presence in an underwhelming reply.

Perera hit seven fours and a maximum in a brisk 63-ball innings that brought about his first Test fifty since November 2016.

However, he continued to lack support and Sri Lanka had just 152 runs on the board when he sliced Steyn to substitute fielder Zubayr Hamza to leave them eight down.

Debutant Lasith Embuldeniya provided admirable resistance, his 24 featuring four boundaries, but fittingly it was Steyn who caught him at mid-off to end the innings with Sri Lanka 44 runs adrift.

Aiden Markram set about adding to South Africa's advantage quickly but lasted only 31 balls before sending a thick edge to second slip.

Hashim Amla and Dean Elgar added another 34 before the former skipper became the Vishwa Fernando's fifth wicket of an impressive match for the left-armer.

Temba Bavuma fell cheaply to Embuldeniya, who then made a sharp take to his left to catch Elgar off his own bowling.

Yet the ship was firmly steadied by Faf du Plessis (25 not out) and Quinton de Kock (15no), who will seek to build an imposing target for the tourists to chase. 

Shannon Gabriel has given his account of his third-Test exchange with Joe Root, with the West Indies bowler offering an "unreserved apology" to the England team and their captain as well as his own team-mates. 

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