Centurion [South Africa], December 29 (ANI): Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne termed the humiliating defeat against South Africa in the first Test as a "huge disappointment" and said that if his side's bowlers had stayed fit, they would have been able to give a tough fight.
Wiaan Mulder, Lutho Sipamla and Anrich Nortje all claimed two wickets apiece as the Proteas made a winning start to the summer with a clinical innings and 45-run victory over Sri Lanka after lunch on day four of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Centurion on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva, who had suffered a "thigh strain" while batting, was on Sunday ruled out of the series, followed by Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara withdrawing from the attack due to injuries.
"I have never faced a situation like this and maybe no one has, where in one match you lose three bowlers. When we started we had a balanced attack, with bowlers I could use for various roles. But in the first innings we lost that. We had been in a position where we could have even dominated the game. We had been in worse situations than this on our last tour to South Africa when we won those games. Losing this [game] by an innings is a huge disappointment," ESPN Cricinfo quoted Karunaratne as saying.
"We had scored the most we'd ever scored [in South Africa] in the first innings. We knew after making that total that it's going to get harder to bat on later in the game as well. If our bowlers had stayed fit we would have been able to do something. Our batsmen did a good job in this match," he added.
Karunaratne said as a captain, it is his duty to keep the players together after such a heavy defeat. "As a captain, I need to work out how to keep my head up and keep the players together. There's a lot of disappointment because we arrived on this tour with a lot of hopes. We'd been in a positive mindset. But the series isn't over yet. I'm sure the replacement players will do well in the second Test," he said.
The Sri Lankans had resumed the fourth morning on 65 for two and 160 runs short of making South Africa bat again. They initially started out well as top-scorer Kusal Perera (64 off 87 balls, 10 fours) and Dinesh Chandimal extended their third-wicket partnership to 63 for the third wicket, before Mulder cleaned up the latter for 25.
Niroshan Dickwella lasted 15 balls for his 10 as Mulder struck once more by drawing an edge to Quinton de Kock. Superb bowling from Nortje then claimed the prized scalp of Perera as the visitors' hopes of making the home side bat again were severely dented.
Dasun Shanaka (6) and Wanindu Hasaranga (59 off 53 balls, 12 fours, 1 six) were taken out by Sipamla. Vishwa Fernando was run out for a duck and Nortje dislodged last man Kasun Rajitha without scoring.
That left Sri Lanka all out for 180 and put the Proteas 1-0 up in the two-match series. The second Test match begins on January 3. (ANI)