Kusal Perera deserves all the praise that comes his way for steering Sri Lanka to an unlikely opening-Test win for his "Superman" effort with the bat, said losing South Africa captain Faf du Plessis.

Sri Lanka appeared to be on a hiding to nothing in Durban when, chasing 304 for victory, the tourists fell to 226-9 from 83-3 on day four.

But Perera, on 86 at that point, produced a masterclass for the ages and his unbroken stand of 78 with Vishwa Fernando – a record 10th-wicket, fourth-innings partnership for a winning side in Test cricket – steered Sri Lanka to a one-wicket triumph.

Proteas skipper Du Plessis concedes his side could do nothing to get Perera, who finished a career-best 153 not out, off strike and recognised the match was a great advert for fans of five-day cricket.

"It was an incredible game of cricket. We're very disappointed to end on the losing side, but to have it to go down to nine wickets and a 78-run partnership at the end is great for the game of Test cricket," he said. 

"You could tell the fans were excited about it and, I suppose, as fans, that's the kind of Test match you want to see. 

"Well played to Sri Lanka. Obviously Perera was unbelievable. It took a Superman effort. He deserves all of the accolades that will come to him after this game."

Du Plessis admitted that the manner of the defeat was a tough one to take.

"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't emotions going through me on the inside. The legs underneath the water paddling, a little bit of that. It's difficult for a captain," he added. 

"You want to protect a lead and then you also understand that you want to try to bowl at the tailender. 

"He played that beautifully. Whatever we tried, he still managed to get one away or a boundary away, every over, every over.

"Towards the end, we got a few balls at the tailender but unfortunately there were a few plays and misses."

Kusal Perera incredibly deflected praise onto his Sri Lanka team-mates despite a phenomenal individual effort in the one-wicket win over South Africa.

Perera, who started and ended day four at the crease, compiled a sensational unbeaten 153 and dominated a 10th-wicket stand of 78 to guide the tourists to an unlikely victory in Durban, after the Proteas had appeared to be in complete control.

Sri Lanka were reduced from an overnight score of 83-3 to 226-9 on Saturday as they pursued 304 for victory, yet Perera almost single-handedly secured an improbable series lead with an astonishing display.

The batsman's breathless exploits had taken their toll by the time of the post-match presentation, but he was keen for his colleagues to be credited, too.

"I'm really tired now," he admitted, before adding: "I don't know what to say.

"All the batsmen gave me good support and, all that time, I believed in myself. We did it. I was just thinking that I did my part, but we were winning as a team.

"We had done a lot of homework in the recent past, so this was a really special win for us. We did a lot of hard work previously."

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne was similarly eager to share the praise as he hailed his "remarkable" star man while also recognising the contributions of debutants Oshada Fernando and Lasith Embuldeniya.

"[Perera] batted really well," the skipper said. "He's one of the most experienced guys in the side, but this hundred is remarkable.

"Getting a hundred in South Africa is not easy against a top-class fast bowling attack.

"But even the two debutants did really well. Oshada batted really well and Embuldeniya clearly did a good job [taking five wickets in South Africa's second innings]. That's what we need. As a team, we need to play as a unit and do our best."

Kusal Perera remarkably dominated a record-breaking 10th-wicket partnership with Vishwa Fernando to carry Sri Lanka to a sensational one-wicket win over South Africa in a dramatic first Test.

Having been set 304 to win in Durban, Sri Lanka's hopes looked to be over when they slipped from an overnight score of 83-3 to 226-9 on day four.

Perera was unbeaten on 86 when the ninth wicket fell but almost single-handedly guided Sri Lanka to victory thereafter, hogging the strike and reaching 153 not out in an unbroken stand of 78 with Fernando, who faced 27 balls to make six.

Sri Lanka were therefore able to claim a 1-0 series lead, with the masterclass from Perera - whose previous Test best was 110 - leaving the hosts stunned.

Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed had shared the previous highest 10th-wicket partnership to win a Test in the fourth innings, putting on 57 against Australia in Karachi in 1994.

South African runner Caster Semenya has been at the centre of the storm regarding recent rules by the IAAF which could make her ineligible without undergoing hormone therapy.

South Africa collapsed after lunch on day three in Durban to bring Sri Lanka back into the first Test as they chase 304 for victory.

The Proteas looked to be in complete control at the end of the first session at Kingsmead, even after losing Quinton de Kock (55), with their lead standing at 271 runs.

But the hosts added only 32 to that total after the restart as Sri Lanka took five wickets - including that of Faf du Plessis (90) - for just eight runs in a dominant spell, inspired by debutant Lasith Embuldeniya's 5-66.

That flurry ensured a more attainable target for the tourists and they were still in the contest at stumps, with Kusal Perera (12 not out) and Oshada Fernando (28 no) battling away on 83-3, 221 short of an unlikely triumph.

Already in a commanding position, South Africa cruised through the first session of day three as Du Plessis and De Kock built a partnership of 96.

Kusal Mendis was substituted out for a time as a Du Plessis edge did not carry and he was hurt in stooping for the catch, before insult was added to injury when an overthrow provided De Kock with a 56-ball half-century.

However, a rare De Kock error saw the Proteas star waste a review on a blatant lbw as he was trapped by Embuldeniya to halt the stand short of three figures.

It initially appeared to matter little, yet the match turned dramatically in the second session.

Vernon Philander was the first to go as he was beaten by Embuldeniya, before Du Plessis followed via a straightforward lbw decision off Vishwa Fernando (4-71) just before a drinks break.

South Africa's lower order never recovered and Embuldeniya swiftly added Kagiso Rabada, with Vishwa removing Keshav Maharaj and Dale Steyn to suddenly conclude the innings.

Keen to seize this improbable opportunity, Sri Lanka made a solid start with the bat as Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne paired for 42.

But the duo departed in quick succession with Rabada snaring Thirimanne while Karunaratne went to a tight lbw call, and then Mendis sent a cheap edge behind for a duck to hand Duanne Olivier a wicket.

Bad light stopped play for the day as Sri Lanka steadied the ship through Perera and Oshada, with plenty of work left to do but the tourists at least in with a fighting chance.

South Africa and New Zealand will give the Windies their final look at what they can expect ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 when the Caribbean side battles them in International Cricket Council (ICC)-sanctioned warm-up games. 

Eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt will be one of the hosts of the Sun Met in Cape Town South Africa this Saturday, January 26.

After only three matches for the Jozi Stars in South Africa’s Mzansi Super League, Chris Gayle is returning home to Jamaica to attend his mother’s funeral.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and his backroom staff will be made available to assist the country's Super Rugby teams in the 2019 season.

Former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies middle-order batsman believes the Windies need to return to a format where West Indies-born coaches take charge of the side’s fortunes. 

Rassie Erasmus says he will not remain as South Africa head coach beyond the 2019 World Cup.

Erasmus, who is under contract as South African Rugby's director of rugby through to the World Cup in 2023, took over from Allister Coetzee in March.

Though he has won only seven of his 14 fixtures, Erasmus has inspired something of a turnaround from the Springboks, who won a home Test series with England in June before beating New Zealand in Wellington as they finished second in the Rugby Championship.

His role as head coach has led him to put his responsibilities as director of rugby to one side, but he expects to return to focusing fully on the latter role after next year's tournament in Japan.

"I'm only head coach until the World Cup next year," he told SuperSport.

"The six years [director of rugby contract] is not there to protect myself … it's there to protect SA Rugby. As we all know, if I don't perform then the people will vote me out.

"When I was appointed director of rugby… at that stage I still thought Allister Coetzee was continuing. The leadership asked Allister to step down and then asked me to step in.

"The moment I am finished with this [head coach role] and for the next six months, I will be involved with them [the other SA Rugby structures] a lot."

Meanwhile, the Springboks have confirmed their Test schedule for 2019, with Johannesburg hosting their sole home fixture in a shortened Rugby Championship. South Africa will take on Argentina at home in a non-Rugby Championship clash in Pretoria on August 17.

 

Naka Drotske, a member of South Africa's 1995 Rugby World Cup winning squad, is in critical condition in hospital after being shot during a robbery in Pretoria.

Former Springboks team-mate Os du Randt was with Drotske at the time of the incident, but is said to have been unharmed.

Drotske was visiting family and local reports said he and Du Randt were targeted by four men.

South African Rugby tweeted a statement, which read: "Our thoughts are with former Springboks Naka Drotske and Os du Randt and their families, who were the victims of a robbery near Pretoria last night. 

"Naka was shot and is currently in critical condition in hospital. We wish him a speedy recovery."

 

Drotske made 26 appearances for the Springboks between 1993 and 1999, and most recently coached the Cheetahs.

His former club London Irish also offered their best wishes, posting on Twitter: "Our thoughts are with former London Irish player Naka Drotske after this shocking news.

"We wish him a speedy recovery."

South Africa's 1995 World Cup win on home soil was the first major sporting event to have taken place in the country following the ending of apartheid.

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi is confident the Springboks are moving in the right direction under Rassie Erasmus after a strong end to 2018.

Since replacing Allister Coetzee in March, Erasmus has overseen seven wins in 14 matches, including a series win over England and a Test victory against New Zealand.

South Africa finished second in the Rugby Championship behind the All Blacks but were buoyed by the 36-34 triumph in Wellington on September 15.

They suffered a narrow defeat to England at the start of this month's European tour but bounced back with wins over France and Scotland.

A 20-11 loss to Wales last weekend ended their year on a negative note but Kolisi is convinced there are plenty of positives heading into a World Cup year in 2019.

"I think we're heading in the right direction," Kolisi told ESPN.

"There were some ups and there some downs and I think we obviously wanted to do so much better than we did, but we've learned and improved a lot.

"I think the respect we wanted to gain back and the respect we wanted to get back in the Springboks jersey, I think we got a bit of that."

Ireland rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll believes the lure of an Olympic gold medal could see more players swap the 15-a-side game for sevens in future.

The men's 2018-19 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series gets under way in Dubai on Friday, with four places at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo up for grabs over the course of the campaign.

Sonny Bill Williams was the highest-profile player to make the switch when sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, although an early injury curtailed his involvement in a tournament won by Fiji.

O'Driscoll expects more players to try their hand at the format in the years to come but says success in XVs rugby offers little indication of a player's aptitude for sevens.

"That happened in 2015, when Sonny Bill Williams was really the only player who had any success with it," HSBC global rugby sevens ambassador O'Driscoll told Omnisport. "Unfortunately he tore his Achilles about two minutes into the tournament.

"We had other players like Quade Cooper, Liam Messam and even Bryan Habana, who found the transition too difficult.

"There's a different level of fitness needed and I think it was a huge tip of the cap to those playing on the sevens circuit that it's not just a case of anyone being able to move across and play with seamlessness.

"It's a different type of game with the need for a different type of fitness and a different skill set.

"I do feel as though we will have more players who will try to make that transition. Whether they'll be successful in doing so, we'll just have to wait and see."

Habana, who missed out on selection for South Africa's squad for the 2016 Games, argued that the involvement of big-name XVs players could prove more of a hindrance than a help.

"I'm not sure we'll see more of it but I think we'll see individual cases," he added. "But as we saw leading up to 2016, a lot of the sevens coaches saw it as a bit of a disruption more than anything else.

"You'll have certain instances, but it won't be a group of 10 or 15 Super Rugby or Premiership players trying to come up and play the game of sevens."

Discussing the players setting out on their HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series campaign this weekend, O'Driscoll commented: "They don't need any more motivation than playing for the series finale and to be the series winner.

"But when you have that carrot of being part of an Olympics in two years' time and you get an opportunity to represent your country and maybe win an Olympic gold medal - something very few people have the opportunity to do - there's no further motivation needed than that."

Brian O'Driscoll and Bryan Habana are HSBC global rugby sevens ambassadors. They are working alongside HSBC to support the explosive growth of rugby sevens, helping the exciting and unpredictable sport thrive all over the world. Follow all the action at @HSBC_Sport on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Wales flanker Ellis Jenkins looks certain to miss the Six Nations after sustaining a suspected anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury against South Africa.

Jenkins put in a man-of-the-match performance as Wales earned a 20-11 victory at the Principality Stadium to make it nine straight Test wins for the first time this century.

However, the match finished with an almost sombre atmosphere in the stands as Jenkins – who was a late call into the starting line-up due to an elbow injury for Dan Lydiate – received medical attention in the closing stages.

Jenkins will have a scan on Monday but is now unlikely to return for the Six Nations, which starts in February, while he could also be a fitness doubt for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"I don't know how he is. There will be a scan on Monday. It looks like an ACL which is not brilliant," head coach Warren Gatland said after the game.

"He's very disappointed. His performance was outstanding. Before the game, I had a one-on-one with him. I thought he was excellent.

"I thought today was an outstanding performance and he deserved Man of the Match. You have to really feel for him.

"When anyone gets injured it's the hardest thing to take. You know it's a big year for a lot of players and they work so hard.

"He was co-captain on the summer tour and he did a great job.

"When you see a player who has worked hard to win his spot and get in the team, pick up an injury, you feel for him."

On Wales' overall performance, Gatland believes his team are still a work in progress despite their terrific run.

"It was the toughest game we've played this autumn. There are aspects we need to challenge the players on and challenge themselves technically," he added.

"They can go away with their regions and get away with things, but when you play the best teams in the world you can get exposed.

"There is some game management we can improve. The good thing with these guys is they can dig themselves into a hole and then get out of it.

"We're in a good place at the moment. I don't think we've lost at home this year. That's a nice feeling in the changing rooms. But we know there's a lot of work to do."

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