Dale Steyn grabbed a match haul of 9-99 as South Africa thrashed Sri Lanka by 153 runs on the fifth and final day of the first Test on Sunday.
Steyn’s figures, the best by a quick at the Galle ground, helped the visitors bowl Sri Lanka out twice despite a wicket which offered little help.
It was only South Africa’s third win on the island and their first since 2000.
Steyn was well-supported by seamer Morne Morkel, who picked up four wickets as Sri Lanka’s second innings ended on 216 shortly into the second session.
The hosts needed to make another 260 runs on the final day with nine wickets in hand to pull off a come-from-behind win. But they lost their remaining wickets for just 106 to go down tamely in the end.
South Africa made 455-9 declared in their first innings before bowling out the home side for 292. In their second knock, South Africa declared at 206-6 to set Sri Lanka a target of 370.
The victory was especially sweet for Hashim Amla, who was leading the side for the first time in Test cricket.
He celebrated his winning start by hugging his teammates and exchanging high fives.
“It [winning] was not easy, credit to the boys, they put their hands up today [Sunday],” said Amla.
“We had some challenging overs last night but the bowlers came back and did really well. Dean [Elgar] got a 100, JP (Duminy) got one as well and they set the game up for us.”
We were really disappointing: Mathews
South Africa, currently the world number two, can reclaim their top world ranking from Australia if they win the second and final Test in Colombo from July 24-28.
Part-time spinner Jean-Paul Duminy picked up two wickets including the crucial scalp of Kumar Sangakkara, who made a fighting 76 to salvage some pride for the hosts.
Sri Lanka, who had resumed on their overnight 110-1, added just 51 off 24 overs in the first session while losing five wickets.
“South Africans outplayed us on all the five days,” said Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews.
“We don’t mind losing games if we have played good cricket, but in this game we were really disappointing.
Steyn, who was named man of the match, said it felt great to help his side win the game.
“Every time I come down to the sub-continent, I want to do well,” he said.
“Nobody cares if you take five-for on a green top. But on a wicket like this, it really makes a difference.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2014.
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