We were thinking 280-plus, but to have 340 is surprising everyone in the dressing room.
PRETORIA – Dinesh Chandimal who top scored for Sri Lanka with 85, said the tourists surprised themselves with the total of 340/6 they posted at stumps on the opening day of the first Test against South Africa here on Saturday.
“We were thinking 280-plus, but to have 340 is surprising everyone in the dressing room,” the stylish right hander remarked.
He had shared a partnership of 132 for the fourth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva until De Silva had to leave the field with a left thigh strain, the seriousness of which will be assessed overnight.
As for his own performance, Chandimal, who has not been a fixture in the Test side in its last few matches, said he’d focused on being patient early. “It was tough at 54/3, the South African fast bowlers were outstanding in that period. I felt it was important that I got through the first 30 balls and once I did that, I capitalised.”
He and de Silva were largely untroubled throughout, taking advantage of plenty of loose deliveries from the South Africans. “It’s not easy to bat in South Africa, in these conditions, and when you work out your game plan, you have to execute it well,’ Chandimal added.
Wiaan Mulder, the most successful of South Africa’s bowlers, who finished with 3/68, said the hosts made it too easy at times for the Sri Lankans to score. “There was enough in the wicket if we hit it hard, so the chat was (to hit) the top of off stump, but we gave a few freebies and they got away from us.”
It was Mulder, in conjunction with Anrich Nortjé, who gave the hosts some control in the first session. “My job is to keep things as simple as possible, bowl that fourth stump line and bowl as many dots together as possible.”
“It wasn’t a great ball to get my first, but you don’t mind a bit of luck going your way,” he said of Kusal Perera’s dismissal. The hero of Kingsmead last year threw his bat wildly at a wide delivery – the fifth ball Mulder had bowled – and was caught behind.
As for the lack of experience in the bowling unit, Mulder said the players were making do as best they could and sourcing information or recalling previous times working with senior players. “My nerves were through the roof, it’s just my second game,” he remarked.
“If you look at all the senior players they never make any situation bigger or smaller than it is. Watching the senior guys like Faf, Quinny, KG, you realise, the importance of just keeping it simple.”
As for the second day, Mulder said it was critical that Sri Lanka don’t add much more to their overnight score. “We need to get them out early in the session and then batsmen will need to ensure they are patient against the new ball, because that does nip a bit.”