Quinton de Kock, South Africa’s best batsman on day one of the first Test, has conceded that Sri Lanka’s inexperienced quicks caught his team “off guard” at Kingsmead.
There are few real surprises in top-level cricket any more, such is the preponderance of video analysis. Generally, it is also a disadvantage to field a green attack. But so fresh are three of Sri Lanka’s bowlers, that their newness may actually have helped them in Durban. Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha have played three and four Tests respectively, but claimed 7 for 130 between them.
Suranga Lakmal, by far the most experienced member of the attack, took 1 for 29.
“Going forward we’ll be much more alert to the bowling up front. We’ve understood that Suranga Lakmal is a serious opening bowler that we have seen a lot of, and have good plans for, but were a bit unaware of the new guys,” de Kock said. “I think they caught us off guard. Going forward we’ll plan better, and I’m sure we’ll get off to better starts.
“The two new guys – we hadn’t seen much. We’ve only played one of them [Rajitha] in white-ball cricket once. The rest, it was unseen before. To understand and change our gameplan can be quite tough, especially with the pitch. They bowled really well – they didn’t miss their lengths often. We had work hard to get what we did.”
While left-armer Vishwa largely seamed the ball into the right-handed batsmen, Rajitha bowled mostly outswingers, as the pair posed a variety of questions through the day. Vishwa was the more economical, going at 3.64, where Rajitha conceded 4.63 an over.
“I think what surprised us was just the angle of their bowling and the skills they had,” de Kock said. “They had different actions, some skiddiness, and some bounce. But with those new guys, the batsmen have had a feel of them now, and we’ll come back and see how we are going to go about it. They are two solid bowlers and they will keep us in trouble through the series. We’ve got to keep our eyes open for them.”
De Kock said a total of 235 was “a little under par”, but he expected South Africa’s bowlers to be effective on a still-green Kingsmead surface on day two.
“I think early on, in the first hour or two, there definitely will be some movement in the wicket. But I think as the day goes on, it will get better. I also think Keshav Maharaj will come into play a little bit more. As you see, the wicket is spinning quite a bit.”