South Africa complete series sweep as 'bubble life' proves no party

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Rival captains Quinton de Kock and Dimuth Karunaratne highlighted the difficulties of "bubble life" after South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 10 wickets on the third day of the second and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The win completed a 2-0 series clean sweep for South Africa.

De Kock hailed South Africa’s first series win in almost two years and praised a young bowling line-up who kept Sri Lanka under pressure for most of the two matches.

But he told SuperSport television he had "mixed feelings" about South Africa’s next assignment, a tour of Pakistan later this month. "I’m keen to play some cricket but bubble life at times can be a bit frustrating," he said.

Both teams stayed at a country club for the duration of the series in a bio-secure environment to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"It’s really hard to stay in a bubble for a long time," said Karunaratne, who completed a tenth Test century on Tuesday morning before his dismissal for 103 started a collapse in which the last six wickets fell for 35 runs.

Sri Lanka were bowled out for 211 and South Africa knocked off the 67 runs they needed in 13.2 overs without losing a wicket.

While the South Africans will have a short time at home before leaving for Pakistan to start a two-Test series in Karachi on January 26, there will be no break for the Sri Lankans.

They will have to go into quarantine for six days after flying home on a charter flight and will have minimal time to prepare for two Tests against England in Galle, starting on January 14.

Karunaratne said he expected Sri Lanka to play well in home conditions but said both teams would face a test of mental strength because of the restrictions imposed by Covid.

- 'Need some space' -

“We can’t go out. We stay in the room, we go to the ground and we play cricket. We need some space to go out and eat something and meet friends. Unfortunately we don’t have that,” he said.

Karunaratne said Sri Lanka’s first innings collapse from 71 for one to 157 all out had hurt the team. “We had a good start but suddenly we lost wickets,” he said. “We fought back hard and we did a good job in patches.”

He highlighted the batting form of Kusal Perera in the injury-enforced role as an opening batsman and the bowling of opening bowlers Vishwa Fernando and Asitha Fernando as “positives” to take back to Sri Lanka.

He said he hoped experienced players Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal and Suranga Lakmal would be fit for the England series.

De Kock brushed off talk that South Africa had gained “revenge” after losing a home series against Sri Lanka two seasons ago.

"After the year we had we just wanted to get off to a good start in the next season,” he said, referring to a year of mediocre results and cancelled tours because of Covid.

De Kock said he had been impressed with an inexperienced bowling attack.

"At times there were a couple of soft boundaries but when they came back they bowled very nicely. With more experience they will help us even more going forward.”

Opening batsman Dean Elgar was named man of the match and man of the series. His innings of 127 enabled South Africa to gain a first innings lead of 145. He made 253 runs in the series and was only dismissed twice.