South Africa Emerging coach Shukri Conrad praised his bowlers for sticking to their plans on the final day of a closely-fought four-day clash against their Sri Lanka counterparts in Potchefstroom on Sunday.
The hosts prevailed by 28 runs at Senwes Park to go 1-0 up in the two-match series, a result that will give them plenty of confidence considering their struggles in the one-day triangular series, where they failed to make the final.
What was especially pleasing for the home side was the way in which they dug deep on day four to seal the victory. This after the Asian side, chasing 331 for victory, had entered the final day on 145 for one, needing 189 more to win.
“It was particularly gratifying from a bowling perspective to see how we managed to stick to our plans on that last day and force them into errors,” Conrad said. “Coming into that last day, they were probably favourites to win.
“They needed 180-odd with nine wickets in hand on a wicket that wasn’t very responsive to seam bowling, so that was a big feather in the cap, how we responded to the match situation.”
The tourists were eventually dismissed for 302 in 94.1 overs with three wickets apiece for Tladi Bokako (3/70) and Nandre Burger (3/38) as well as a double for Marco Jansen (2/58).
It completed a good win for the South Africans, although Conrad felt there was plenty of room for improvement.
“It was very satisfying to get a positive result,” Conrad added. “I think we put in a lot of hard work leading up to this four-day series as well as the one-dayers.
“But there’s still processes to be followed, and while the result is a positive one, I think there were periods in the game where we played in patches and could have been a lot better.
“We were in a really strong position on day one but allowed that to slip and then we had them on the rack in the first innings and they managed to claw it back to a deficit of 140.
“But then in the second innings we capitulated until an eighth-wicket partnership gave us something that we could defend.
“So, whilst there were a lot of positives, I still feel that the group can perform a lot better. I know we let ourselves down from a few strong positions and weren’t able to nail down the advantage.
“Now heading into the last game there is an opportunity to win the series and that is what the target will be.”
The second and final match of the tour begins in Pretoria on Thursday.
SA Emerging squad: Tony de Zorzi (Multiply Titans), Janneman Malan (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Raynard van Tonder (VKB Knights), Matthew Breetzke (Warriors), Wandile Makwetu (VKB Knights), Sinethemba Qeshile (Warriors), Sibonelo Makhanya (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Marco Jansen (VKB Knights), Tshepang Dithole (bizhub Highveld Lions), Tshepo Ndwandwa (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Tladi Bokako (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Nandre Burger (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Kyle Simmonds (Northerns), Jason Smith (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Dayyaan Galiem (Multiply Titans), Thando Ntini (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras).