Sri Lanka pulled off a stunning against-the-odds run chase to beat South Africa by one wicket in the first test on Saturday as Kusal Perera almost single-handedly won the game with his 153 not out.
Chasing an unlikely 304, Sri Lanka was 226-9 and seemingly out of it. But a last-wicket partnership of 78 between Perera and Vishwa Fernando took the tourists to a thrilling victory on the fourth day.
Perera scored 68 of those 78 runs, but Fernando hung in for 27 balls for his 6 not out to allow Perera to guide the tourists home.
Sri Lanka’s victory gives it a 1-0 lead in the short two-test series and ends South Africa’s run of seven straight home series wins.
Sri Lanka’s 304-9 was the third-highest successful run chase in nearly 100 years of test cricket at the Kingsmead ground in Durban.
Perera won it with a late cut down to the boundary for four, prompting Sri Lankan players to sprint from the dressing room and out onto the pitch to congratulate their match winner. Perera removed his helmet and thrust both arms up in the air to celebrate one of the best innings ever by a Sri Lankan.
Sri Lanka has lost its last three series and had two debutants and a new captain for the first test, meaning few people gave the inexperienced visiting team a chance against South Africa.