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Kusal Perera's historic ton carries Sri Lanka to incredible win in South Africa
Sri Lanka in South Africa

Kusal Perera's historic ton carries Sri Lanka to incredible win in South Africa

Kusal Perera's unbeaten 153 carried Sri Lanka single-handedly to an incredible one-wicket win on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa.

Perera and No.11 Vishwa Fernando put on an unbeaten 78 runs for the last wicket to secure only Sri Lanka's second win in 14 Tests in South Africa.

The Proteas looked in total control when the ninth wicket fell with 226 on the board.

But the 28-year-old successfully farmed the strike, with open fields at his disposal. Fernando ably supported his partner by successfully facing 27 balls in the 96-ball partnership.

Perera was on 86 when the ninth wicket fell but managed to keep most of the strike in an innings of 200 balls. He hit 12 fours and five sixes in his only second century of Test career.

"It was a superman effort (from Perera)," said Faf du Plessis at post-match presentation. "He deserves all the accolades."

South Africa's tactics remained defensive despite taking the second new ball with Sri Lanka still needing 41. Perera smashed sixes off both Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada before guiding one to third man boundary off Rabada to seal the historic win for the islanders,

Perera shared three important partnerships in the innings. He added 58 for the fourth wicket with debutant Oshado Fernando (37) and 96 for the sixth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva (48) before the extraordinary last-wicket stand.

"I'm a little tired now, I don't know what to say," said Perera when he received the man of the match award. "I did my part but we are winning as a team."

Oshado Fernando was removed by Dale Steyn, who had Fernando caught at second slip by South African captain Faf du Plessis. Two balls later he caught Niroshan Dickwella off his own bowling.

Sri Lanka were still a distant 194 runs short of their target when Perera was joined by De Silva, Sri Lanka’s last recognised batsman.

South Africa, who were without opening bowler Vernon Philander because of a strained left hamstring, struggled for the next two hours as Perera and De Silva brought the target down to single figures.

Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj took two wickets off successive balls, dismissing De Silva leg before wicket and having Suranga Lakmal caught at slip.

The next two wickets fell quickly – but what seemed certain victory for South Africa turned into a triumph for the tourists, who are assured of at least a share of the honours in a two-match series.

The second Test starts in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

#SAvSL