FOUR! SRI LANKA WIN! Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. A length ball, outside off, Perera just angles this towards third man but it is more of an outside edge. Luckily for him, the ball flies wide of the slip fielder and races to the third man fence! A 1-WICKET WIN FOR THE LANKANS!
Sri Lanka pulled off a stunning against-the-odds run chase with a record last-wicket partnership of 78 to beat South Africa by one wicket in the first Test on Saturday.
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Kusal Perera almost single-handedly won the game with his 153 not out, but No. 11 batsman Vishwa Fernando played a crucial role as he hung around for 27 balls for his 6 not out to allow Perera to take Sri Lanka home.
Chasing an unlikely 304, Sri Lanka was 226-9 and looked out of it at Kingsmead with the 10th wicket an apparent formality.
But Perera and Fernando had other ideas and took the inexperienced tourists — written off at the start of the series — to a thrilling victory on the fourth day. Even Dale Steyn and top-ranked Test bowler Kagiso Rabada couldn't break their last stand.
Perera scored 67 of those 78 runs for the last wicket and won it with a late cut down to the boundary for four, prompting Sri Lankan players to sprint from the dressing room 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, and one of the team's most remarkable victories.
It was Perera's career-best score, just his second Test century, and his first in three years.
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 and the partnership between Perera and Fernando a record for the highest 10th-wicket partnership to win a Test. The previous record was 57 by Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed for Pakistan against Australia 25 years ago.
Sri Lanka's scintillating victory also gave it a 1-0 lead in the short two-Test series and ended South Africa's run of seven straight home series wins in dramatic fashion.
Sri Lanka had lost its last three series coming into this conTest and had two debutants and a new captain for the first Test, and two other bowlers with just seven Tests between them. Fernando, the unlikely hero with the bat at the end, was one of those two bowlers new to Test cricket.
That lineup and recent form meant few people gave the inexperienced visiting team a chance against South Africa, which has won every series it has played at home for the last three years.
Almost nobody thought victory would be possible when South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj had Kasun Rajitha lbw for 1 to leave Sri Lanka 226-9.
At the time, Perera was on 86. But he threw caution to the wind, crunching all five of his sixes in that game-winning last-wicket stand.