Dilshan praises new SL star

Tillakaratne Dilshan (File)
Tillakaratne Dilshan (File)

Durban - A half-century in each innings, three catches and a stumping earned debutant wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal high praise from his captain after Sri Lanka's victory at Kingsmead on Thursday.

"It was not just his batting and his keeping, but Chandimal was encouraging the bowlers and fielders and giving ideas throughout the test," said skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan.

"He handles himself really well in the middle and is one of the greatest youngsters for the future of Sri Lankan cricket."

It took a great team effort, with contributions in all departments, for the tourists to record their first test win in South Africa.

They crushed the hosts by 208 runs in four days in the second of three matches, levelling the series 1-1.

"We played positive cricket from the first ball, which was important," said Dilshan.

"Our main target was to put runs on the board, which we did, and then the bowlers did a fantastic job."

The Sri Lankans began the second test by winning the toss and posting a competitive total.

Scoring 338 in the first innings and then dismissing South Africa cheaply, for 168, they took a lead of 170 runs.

The Proteas were playing catch-up for the rest of the game and could not find their way back into the match.

Thilan Samaraweera scored his first century in over a year, although he had made a few 80's, and his 100-run partnership with Chandimal ensured a competitive total.

"Chandimal's two fifties (58 and 54) and his involvement in two 100-run partnerships was fantastic," said the skipper.

The 22-year-old also shared a century stand with Kumar Sangakkara in the second innings but it was the first innings which set up the game.

"He took the pressure off Samaraweera in that first innings and played some great shots for his quick 50.

"We gave him an opportunity and he grabbed it with both hands.

"In 10 years' time, when we've all retired, we'll still be watching him and he will score 10 000 runs in test cricket."

Mahela Jayawardene's 10 000-run milestone was overshadowed by the monumental win but he took three valuable catches in the first innings and two in the second which went a long way towards the victory.

Rangana Herath was named Man-of-the-Match for his nine wickets and he also chipped in with 30 runs in the first innings.

"If you look at all the successful bowlers in recent history, they all do the basics, so I just stuck to the basics," said Herath.

While AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn were at the crease, it looked like the game might stretch into a fifth day, but once the left-arm spinner dismissed De Villiers, he cleaned up the tail with his old-fashioned flight and turn.

"We did nothing different and we did the same things we do at practices," said Herath.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't do that [in the first test] in Centurion and that's why we're smiling."

The last word went to Dilshan, who said his one disappointment was his own performance so far on the tour.

"Although it was one of the greatest days in my career, I have a lot of work to do on my batting," admitted the opener.

"I want to start building a foundation for my team. In this test I got a start (47 in the first innings) but went out to a really bad ball.

"I'm looking forward to getting a start in Cape Town and if I can get a big one, the team is in for a chance to win the series."

The third and final test, the series decider, starts at Newlands on Tuesday.

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