Kusal Perera played an innings that will go down in history as one of the best innings ever played. The impact of white ball cricket especially T20 is largely credited to helping Kusal Perera win the match. There is no winning that debate. This is clear that the percentage of games won has increased since the advent of T20. That being said I believe it is difficult to distinguish the cause of this. I believe that white ball cricket has made Test cricket more attacking but it has also resulted in batsmen to lose the ability to occupy the crease for long periods of time. In white ball cricket, there is the possibility of another batsman making up the runs in case there is a quick fall of wickets. It is more difficult to do that in a Test match.
I did not expect a Sri Lankan victory but it did not surprise me either. South Africa was ranked the second last team in my rankings. This excludes Ireland and Afghanistan as they do not qualify for it as yet. Other than Oliver Duanne no other South African has featured in the top batsmen or bowler list. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, has Dimuth Karunaratne and Dilruwan Perera in my Test XI with Angelo Mathews making a strong case for their inclusion. Too much is being made of a lower ICC ranked team winning against a higher ranked side. We heard the same story in the Windies series against England and now with Sri Lanka. The pundits expected England to whitewash Windies and Australia too. In my view the Windies victory dependents on the performance of Holder, Dorwich and Chase. England needed most of its team to perform to win. We all know what happened in the Windies. The Test that the Windies lost was the one that Holder did not play in. Cricket is a team game that requires individuals to perform in order to win. Sri Lanka had Vishal Fernando and Kusal Perera perform well in both innings of the Test South Africa had only Quinton de Kock do that.
Below are the rankings and performances of the teams. South Africa has climbed one place despite losing the game.
The top players are below.
Kemar Roach replaces Shannon Gabriel while James Anderson replaces Duanne Olivier. I suspect then one if not both of them will get replaced by the time the series between South Africa and Sri Lanka is over.