South Africa regained their number one spot in the ICC Test rankings from Australia as they survived a trial by spin to draw against Sri Lanka on the final day in Colombo. However, for much of the final day the tourists were staring defeat in the face.
The draw ensured that the two Test series went in South Africa's favour after they had won the opening Test in Galle by a convincing 153 runs.
Heading into the final day of this Test South Africa were attempting to chase a winning target of 369 from a position of 38-1 overnight, a more than challenging target on a fifth day turning pitch, even for a side of South Africa's standing.
Sri Lanka themselves were chasing nine further wickets in order to level the series, after capturing the wicket of opener Alviro Petersen without scoring late on day four.
Day five could not be resumed on time due to rain, which played into the Proteas hands of surviving the final day. However, when play did resume they were dealt a blow almost straight away as Dean Elgar, with the score on 47, was dismissed for 13 which began a steady procession of wickets for the Sri Lankan's.
Quinton De Kock (37), de Villiers (12), Amla (25) and du Plessis (10) all had starts but none of them could play the one crucial innings that South Africa so desperately needed at that point. However, they did use up a large amount of deliveries despite South Africa seemingly in disarray at 110-6 before rain once again briefly stopped play shortly after.
South Africa, and the weather, were taking time out of the game which was crucial to the
visitors escaping with a draw. A final day run-chase was never on the cards for the visitors on a wicket offering assistance to the spinners and a South African batting line-up very happy to defend everything thrown at them.
The Proteas could not impose themselves on the game like they normally do and as such their run-rate reflected this. The Proteas had no answer to the economical bowling of both Herath and Perera who bowled a combined total of 89 overs for just 100 runs, nor did they want to. However, the efforts of both Herath and Perera were left unrewarded as The Proteas' ninth wicket pair of Vernon Philander and Imran Tahir held out during the final twenty minutes, leaving South Africa on 159-8 in 111 overs.
Rangana Herath did the majority of the damage by capturing four of the first six wickets to fall. He ended the innings with figures of 5-40, whilst Dilruwan Perera finished with a very credible 3-60.
South Africa will have been reasonably satisfied with their tour of Sri Lanka, after a 2-1 victory in the ODI series, and new captain Hashim Amla will be happy to have started his captaincy reign with a tough series victory and the number one ranking spot.
Sri Lanka, themselves, will be buoyed by their form so far in 2014. Despite ultimate defeat in this series their relatively new-look side will have gained extra confidence, building on the success of beating England 1-0 in their previous series.
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