Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis propelled Sri Lanka to an eight-wicket win over South Africa on the third day of the second Test at St George's Park on Saturday, clinching an historic 2-0 series triumph.
The unheralded Sri Lankans became the first team from Asia to win a Test series in South Africa. Unlike their dramatic, unexpected one-wicket win in the first Test in Durban, the Sri Lankans surged to victory as Fernando and Mendis shared an unbeaten 163-run third wicket partnership studded with crisp, authoritative strokes.
Fernando made 75 not out off 106 balls and Mendis scored 84 not out off 110 deliveries as Sri Lanka chased down a victory target of 197, reaching the mark by lunch. Sri Lanka's series win was one of the biggest upsets in recent cricket history.
South Africa had won their previous seven series at home and had won 16 out of 19 home Tests, with only two defeats, before losing in Durban. Sri Lanka, by contrast, had lost six and drawn one of their previous seven Tests before arriving in South Africa with their team seemingly in disarray.
The selectors had made wholesale changes, including the dropping of captain Dinesh Chandimal, several players were missing because of injuries, while coach Chandika Hathurusingha was stripped of some of his powers. Yet the Sri Lankans heeded the call of Dimuth Karunaratne, who was announced as 'interim' captain, to "compete in every session" and to play with a smile on their faces.(AFP)