DURBAN: A sensational unbeaten 153 from Kusal Perera helped Sri Lanka chase down a daunting target of 304 runs in the final innings to clinch the first Test against South Africa at Durban by one wicket.
Sri Lanka’s hopes seemed to be all but faded at the end of day three when they were reduced to 83-3 in their chase of 304. That task was looking all the more improbable for the tourists once Odasha Fernando and Niroshan Dickwella fell within the space of three deliveries in the morning session of day four at Durban.
However, Perera came out swinging in what will go down as one of the best Test innings of all-time to keep Sri Lanka in the hunt.
The left-hander forged a 96-run stand for the sixth wicket along with Dhananjay de Silva to give Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope before Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj’s three quick strikes reduced the visitors to 226-9.
With just last man Vishwa Fernando for company, Perera turned on the style as he went on the offensive at Durban. The 28-year-old registered his second Test century but the battle was still an uphill one for Sri Lanka which just one wicket to play with.
Perera though, shielded the tailender in a mighty effective manner while he continued to strike some lusty blows from his end. The Sri Lanka middle-order batsman took on South Africa’s pacers Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada, striking a total of five sixes before clinching a dramatic win with a boundary which also brought up his 150.
The unbroken 78-run stand between Perera and Fernando is the highest ever recorded for the 10th wicket in any Test win in history.
Earlier on day three, Sri Lanka had picked up five wickets for just eight runs to bundle out South Africa for 259 runs in their second innings.
Sri Lanka now lead the two-match series 1-0 with the second and final Test between the two sides set to get underway at Port Elizabeth on February 21.