South Africa might have missed a trick in playing just the one spinner in the second Test at SSC, believes Thilan Samaraweera, especially as the one spinner they did play - Keshav Maharaj - went on to pick up eight wickets on the day.
“I’m really surprised (they went with one spinner). I thought they might go with three pace and two spin, but they stuck to their strength, which is pace,” said the Sri Lankan batting coach after the end of the first day’s play.
“I guess not having the additional spinner is good for us. When you see the scorecard, one spinner has picked up eight wickets. They were probably short of one spinner.”
Indeed, South Africa might only wonder how many fewer runs they could have limited Sri Lanka to had Tabraiz Shamsi - who picked up four wickets in the first Test - been around for support. As it turned out, Sri Lanka, for a majority of their innings, were content to simply bat Maharaj away and focus their scoring efforts on the trio of visiting seamers.
This saw Sri Lanka put on their first 100-run opening partnership in a home Test in nearly eight years, while two other substantial partnerships - 36 and 54 - ensured that even a late order collapse would not prevent Sri Lanka achieving their pre-determined first innings target.
“After winning the toss, we were looking at 270 to 300 runs,” revealed Samaraweera. “When the game goes, it will be hard to bat in the third and fourth innings on these kind of surfaces. I am happy that we are where we are at 277 for nine. Had we been 275 for six, we would have been happier, but we lost those late wickets.”
With Sri Lanka now having failed their spin test, yet having put up a competitive total, it’ll be South Africa’s turn to face a trial by spin - one that Samaraweera hopes will be much more taxing.
“The pitch is spinning, but you have to wait till South Africa bat. After that I can tell you whether the wicket is spinning or not. At the moment, it looks like spinning.” “The last six or seven overs, the pitch behaved differently. The part-time off-spinner was getting a lot of bounce. At the moment, we are very confident, but we have to bowl the right areas and if do that, we can take wickets,” he added. (MB)