Sri Lanka on top after ‘tough’ day for South Africa in second Test

It was a good day for the Sri Lanka bowlers at St George's Park. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2019
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Sri Lanka on top after ‘tough’ day for South Africa in second Test

  • 13 wickets fall during a dramatic first day in Port Elizabeth.
  • Proteas batsman Aiden Markram admits conditions were tough as hosts seek to come back from 1-0 down.

PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA: South African opening batsman Aiden Markram said conditions were difficult for batsmen after 13 wickets fell on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at St. George’s Park on Thursday.
Sri Lanka were 60 for three at the close after bowling out South Africa for 222, an innings which owed much to a sparkling 86 off 87 balls by Quinton de Kock.
The tourists suffered a blow when left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya sustained a badly dislocated left thumb in trying to take a sharp return catch from Kagiso Rabada, an injury which is expected to keep him out of the rest of the match and for several weeks afterwards.
Markram, who made 60, said the South Africans, chasing a win to square the two-match series, were disappointed with their total.
“Coming into this Test match, we really wanted to score big and for batters to get big hundreds,” said Markram.
“We are a bit disappointed but I thought the Sri Lankans bowled well. There was a bit of lateral movement and a bit of swing. Today was really tough.”
Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha both took three wickets as Sri Lanka followed up their dramatic one-wicket win in the first Test in Durban with a disciplined bowling performance.
Fernando said he was pleased that South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis had decided to bat.
“I had confidence that I could take two or three wickets with the new ball,” he said.
Fernando took advantage of early swing to dismiss Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla with successive deliveries in the sixth over of the match, which was followed in the next over by the run-out of Temba Bavuma as three wickets fell with the total on 15.
“I was bowling outswingers and was going too wide, so I tried to use the crease and then get one in. He was looking for the outswinger but it cut back in,” he said of his dismissal of the left-hander Elgar.
The next ball swung in sharply to bowl the right-handed Amla.
South Africa never recovered fully despite three half-century stands.
Markram and Du Plessis put on 58 for the fourth wicket but it was 73 for four when Du Plessis was bowled by opposite number, part-time bowler Dimuth Karunaratne, with the last ball before lunch.

“BITTERLY DISAPPOINTING”

Markram and De Kock put on 57 at almost a run a ball for the fifth wicket before Kasun Rajitha took three wickets in successive overs, starting by trapping Markram leg before wicket.
“I felt I needed to grind out quite hard for a long period of time. To get out was bitterly disappointing,” he said.
Rajitha followed up with the wickets of new cap Wiaan Mulder for nine and Keshav Maharaj for nought.
The left-handed De Kock went to his third half-century of the series off 51 balls but was dropped on 55 when Dhananjaya de Silva could not hold a high chance at gully off Rajitha.
De Kock and Rabada added 59 for the eighth wicket before De Kock, who was suffering from cramp, was bowled by off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva, who then had Rabada caught behind.
Vishwa Fernando finished off the innings by having Duanne Olivier caught behind.
De Kock was struggling to run from soon after reaching his half-century and needed treatment on the field.
Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne gave the Sri Lankan innings a reasonable start, putting on 25 for the first wicket and seeing off the first 11 overs from Dale Steyn and Rabada.
But Karunaratne was caught behind off Rabada for 17 and Olivier followed up by bowling Oshada Fernando and having Kusal Mendis caught behind.


New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

Updated 24 March 2019
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New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

  • The Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs
  • The Crusaders have been asked by fans to change their name following last week's terror mosques attack that killed at least 50 worshippers

PRETORIA, South Africa: The Crusaders lost for the first time this season and the Chiefs won for the first time, shaking up Super Rugby at the top and the bottom of the standings on Saturday.
In their first game since the mosque shootings in their home city eight days earlier, the Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs.
Wallabies fullback Israel Folau sealed the Waratahs’ 20-12 win and equaled Doug Howlett’s record of 59 Super Rugby tries when he followed up on a high kick and reacted quickest to score the home team’s third try in the 73rd minute. The Waratahs led 15-7 for most of the second half before Folau ensured there was no way back for the Crusaders.
The two-time defending champions’ first loss in a year was followed by another serious surprise in round six when the Hamilton-based Chiefs, winless and bottom of the overall standings, upset the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Chiefs didn’t just win. They hammered the Bulls 56-20 and seven tries to two. There were doubles by winger Solomon Alaimalo, center Alex Nankivell, and captain Brodie Retallick as the Chiefs, who once lost a Super Rugby final 61-17 at Loftus, produced a spectacular turnaround in form.
The Crusaders’ loss meant the Hurricanes drew level with them on points at the top of the New Zealand conference. The Lions, the losing finalists the last three years, moved a point behind the Crusaders in the overall standings after beating the Sunwolves in Singapore.
The Sunwolves were on the board first in that game through a penalty try which saw Lions wing Sylvian Mahuza yellow-carded for a deliberate knock down.
The Lions were inspired by hooker Malcolm Marx, who scored two tries and came up with numerous crucial turnovers in the 37-24 win. That capped a miserable couple of days for the Tokyo-based Sunwolves, who learned on Friday they would be cut from Super Rugby at the end of next season.
Also, the Hurricanes beat the Stormers 34-28, and the Sharks beat Melbourne Rebels 28-14 to both gain ground.
The Waratahs made a fast start against the Crusaders, scoring tries through lock Jeb Holloway and wing Cameron Clark to lead 12-0 after as many minutes. They then kept steady defensive pressure on the Crusaders who made an uncharacteristic 18 handling errors.
The Waratahs were able to pin the Crusaders within their half and those errors cost the champions their usual continuity.
“Looking up at the board I see we had 46 percent of possession so we’re building wins off defense,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. “I’m really happy that we were able to get tries when we can and then were able to build a big wall to stop these guys.”
The Crusaders were playing their first game in two weeks after last weekend’s scheduled fixture against the Highlanders was canceled in the wake of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 dead. On Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Crusaders and Waratahs players stood together silently before the game, arm in arm, to remember the victims.
Winger Wes Goosen scored two second-half tries and Beauden Barrett contributed 14 points as the Hurricanes rallied to beat the Stormers 34-28.
The match presented a stark contrast in styles between the Hurricanes, who lacked a reliable set-piece and tried to play the game at pace, and the Stormers, who sought to slow play and control possession through a powerful forward pack.
The Hurricanes finally emerged on top, snatching the lead with a try to Barrett 10 minutes from fulltime and outscoring the Stormers by five tries to three. The lead changed hands five times in a close match in which neither side managed to exert complete control.
“From the outcome point of view it was good, we were certainly after that win,” Barrett said. “But there were moments there where we were frustrated.”