PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — Sri Lanka clinched its first series win in South Africa — and the first for any team other than England and Australia — after sweeping the Proteas 2-0 with an eight-wicket win in the second test on Saturday.
Sri Lanka’s stunning and historic success for a team from the Asian subcontinent — even the mighty India and Pakistan have never managed to do it — came against all expectations after arriving for the two-test series with a new captain and a patched-up team following a run of three straight series losses and six defeats in seven tests.
Yet the Sri Lankans, completely written off at the start, cruised to victory in Port Elizabeth early on Day 3 of the second match against test cricket’s No. 2-ranked team, reaching the victory target of 197 for the loss of just two wickets.
Kusal Mendis and Oshada Fernando dominated South Africa’s famed fast-bowling attack to seal the victory, with Mendis finishing on 84 not out and Fernando, in his debut series, 75 not out. Their partnership of 163 saw Sri Lanka home as they pummeled the South African bowlers.
Sri Lanka is also the first team to blank the Proteas at home since Ricky Ponting’s Australia won 3-0 in South Africa in 2006. Before Saturday, that was the only time South Africa had been swept at home since its return to international cricket after the end of apartheid.
South Africa last lost a series at home three years ago and had won seven straight series at home.