“It was pretty much the perfect performance, everything worked out the way I wanted,” South African captain Faf du Plessis said after his team had demolished Sri Lanka by 282 runs to win the second Test and the series at Newlands in Cape Town on Thursday.
Having lost the toss and been sent in to bat on a green pitch, South Africa overcame some first-innings wobbles to wrap up victory before lunch on the fourth day.
“Having lost the toss on a pretty tough wicket, we wanted to try and bat a bit better than we did in Port Elizabeth and we did that, it was an excellent batting performance, followed by some great bowling,” Du Plessis said.
“We were spot on in our disciplines and the difference between the teams was that we were relentless, we didn’t let Sri Lankan into the game – even when we were 66 for three on the first day, we then had a good partnership. We stood up every time there was one of those moments in the game and I think that’s very important.”
Du Plessis was also delighted with the pitch served up by Newlands groundsman Evan Flint, saying it was ideal in terms of the Proteas exploiting their strengths at home.
“I’m really big on that, that’s one of the 1 or 2% things you add on, getting the conditions we want at home and it’s something I will scream at the top of my lungs if needs be. Too many times, overseas teams have come here and get pitches that suit them, and we don’t get that overseas.
“This pitch did not provide any spin and there was a good contest between bat and ball. If you applied yourself from the third day, then you could get runs,” Du Plessis said.
The captain was even more complimentary about his fast bowling spearhead Kagiso Rabada, who wrapped up the second innings with six for 55 for match figures of 10 for 92, the best for South Africa against Sri Lanka.
“KG was amazing. Even when he’s not bowling that well, as a captain you’re still happy to have him because he tries really hard, there are no dramas. He does exactly what you want him to do, which means you can work with your plan,” Du Plessis said.
Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews was disappointed that his team had made the same mistakes as in the first Test in Port Elizabeth, which was lost by 206 runs.
“It’s obviously disappointing that we’ve made the same mistakes for two Test matches, especially after winning the toss and having them in the bag in the first two sessions. But Dean Elgar batted brilliantly to get a hundred on that surface that was really tough to bat on on the first two days.
“There was pace, bounce and seam movement and we needed longer concentration against a quality attack like South Africa’s. You end up trying to score against good balls and end up nicking to the slips or wicketkeeper,” Mathews, who was out caught behind off Rabada for 49, said.