Wed, 19 Jun 2019

Proteas: Faf hails 'super-human' Perera knock

17 Feb 2019, 02:37 GMT+10

Durban - When Sri Lanka found themselves 110/5 at Kingsmead on Saturday, still 194 runs away from what seemed a near-impossible target, Kusal Perera was 25*.

At that stage, the hard-hitting left-hander could not have imagined that he would finish with a career-best 153* innings of a lifetime to guide Sri Lanka to one of the most famous wins of their Test existence.

It was a knock that left the Proteas gobsmacked, and one that has ensured the hosts cannot win this Test series with only Port Elizabeth to come.

Perera faced exactly 200 balls, batted for over five hours, hit 12 fours and 5 sixes.

He was fearless throughout, unfazed by South Africa's relentless short bowling.

When No 11 Vishwa Fernando - a proper Test No 11 - came to the wicket at 226/9, Sri Lanka still needed 78 runs to win.

It was simply not possible, until it was.

Perera scored 67 of those required runs in a last-wicket partnership that will be remembered for a long, long time both in South Africa and abroad.

In that stand, Perera faced 68 balls while Fernando's 6* off 27 was as important as anything.

The Proteas went short, full, put the field out, brought it in, backed their seamers and used spin, but still could not stop an innings that was simply meant to be.

"There are obviously quite a lot of emotions with disappointment being right at the top," a stunned Du Plessis said in his post-match press conference.

"I'm trying to think what we as a team could have done better, but an innings like that is one that will be spoken about for years to come.

"He took the game on and he takes a lot of risks. Some days it pays off and some days it doesn't. To consistently hit the bowlers that we have over the fielders for six ... all the risks paid off.

"He just manoeuvred beautifully with the whole tail and managed to get the strike."

The nature of the loss will be concerning to South African fans given that there is a World Cup around the corner.

From a position where they should never have lost on Saturday, the Proteas somehow found a way and that is something that is all too familiar when it comes to World Cups.

Du Plessis, however, insists that the defeat had nothing to do with his side's inability to deliver in high-pressure situations.

"I don't see that. The pressure of Test cricket is very different," he said.

"You're bowling to one player the whole time and some days you just have to say, 'well played'.

"It wasn't through our mistakes where we dropped catches. It was purely a super-human effort with the bat and when that happens in Test, T20 or ODI cricket then that's got nothing to do with us and pressure."

The second Test in Port Elizabeth gets underway on Thursday.

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