Angelo Mathews urged his batsmen to use the third Test to prove their mettle. © AFP

Angelo Mathews urged his batsmen to use the third Test to prove their mettle. © AFP

Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka’s captain, said poor batting was the main reason for his team’s 282-run defeat on the fourth day of the second Test against South Africa at Newlands on Thursday (January 5).

“The batsmen let the team down,” said Mathews after the South African fast bowlers, led by Kagiso Rabada, wrapped up the game 15 minutes before lunch. “The bowlers did a good job but the batsmen did not put enough runs on the board.”

Rabada, the man of the match, finished with 6 for 55 as Sri Lanka crumbled to 224 all out, giving South Africa a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series. It took South Africa less than two hours to claim the remaining six wickets after Sri Lanka resumed on 130 for 4.

Mathews said the third and final Test in Johannesburg, starting on January 12, provided a chance for the batsmen to show their mettle.

“We need long hours of concentration to give the bowlers something to bowl at,” he said.

Faf du Plessis said his team had played “almost the perfect Test” after losing the toss and being sent in on a green pitch on which he also would have opted to bowl.

“We wanted to be a bit better than we were in Port Elizabeth (in the first Test). Our whole batting unit put on a decent total and there was great bowling in the first innings as well. From there on, we were in a dominant position,” du Plessis said, even as he eyed a clean sweep. “We haven’t let Sri Lanka into the game once and it’s important to finish the series well.”

Du Plessis admitted the home team had been shocked by the announcement that Kyle Abbott had quit the national team in order to play county cricket for Hampshire in England.

“It wasn’t what we wanted, something we didn’t expect. We had a get-together, tried to change his mind, but after that it was a case of me making sure the team had all its focus on winning this Test match.”

Duanne Olivier, the uncapped fast bowler, has been drafted into a squad which already includes Wayne Parnell, the left-arm seamer.