Crushing Defeat My Worst Moment, Says Sri Lanka Skipper

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said after his team crashed to an innings defeat inside three days that their 3-0 series whitewash by South Africa was the worst loss of his captaincy career.

Sri Lanka lost 16 wickets in a day as South Africa's fast bowlers sealed victory by an innings and 118 runs on the third day of the third and final Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Saturday.

The tourists were bowled out for 131 and 177 as South Africa's four fast bowlers provided a relentless challenge on a pace-friendly pitch.

"I have been part of many defeats, but as a captain it is certainly the worst defeat," said Mathews.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, meanwhile, hailed a dominant performance and said his long-term goal was to take South Africa back to the number one ranking in Test cricket.

The series victory lifted them from fourth to third.

Mathews said that he could not blame poor preparation for their failure to cope with fast, grassy pitches.

"We did our best by preparing pitches in Sri Lanka with lots of grass but unfortunately we couldn't handle it. We also prepared by practicing on bouncy surfaces."

The Sri Lanka captain said he had no quibble with home teams preparing pitches that suited them.

"All teams want to win so you use home advantage to win games. Teams come to the sub-continent and they struggle. We beat Australia 3-0 but we need to find a way to win overseas as well. Maybe we need to play with more grass on our wickets at home."

Mathews pointed out that it was a young and inexperienced team.

"Only three of our guys have played in South Africa before. We need to give these young players a chance. It is not easy to play in these conditions against four seamers of this calibre," he added.

Du Plessis said South Africa had produced consistent cricket throughout the series.

"You expect in these conditions to be on top of Sri Lanka at times. For me is was about making sure that 90 or 95 percent of the time we can string together consistent performances and we did that with our batting, bowling and fielding."

Du Plessis was unapologetic for asking for lively pitches.

"Especially when you play against sub-continent teams you want to make it uncomfortable for them because when you go there, like the tour of India (in 2015) there was not a lot of grass on those wickets.

"We wanted to take them out of their comfort zone. But they are a very young batting unit and they will learn from this and hopefully become better players."

Looking ahead to a year which includes away series in New Zealand and England, followed by home fixtures against Bangladesh and India, Du Plessis said: "We have clear goals. We have been goal-driven in the last six months and it has been very effective. We take it series by series, setting out our challenges and goals for specific series. We want to get back to number one, although it could take a bit of time with the number of games India are playing there."

In a dismal day for the tourists, Sri Lanka were able to add only 51 runs to their overnight first innings total of 80 for four and seldom looked like providing sustained resistance in the second innings, despite a fighting 50 by opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne.

South Africa new cap Duanne Olivier took five wickets for 57 runs in the match, while left-armer Wayne Parnell, in his first Test in three years, took six for 89.


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