Quinton de Kock admitted that South Africa were caught off guard by the unknown fresh faces in the Sri Lankan bowling attack, after the home team rolled over for 235 on the opening day of the Test series in Durban.
Sri Lanka’s day was highlighted by the fast-bowling duo of Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha, who have played nine Tests between them, and took seven of the 10 South African first-innings wickets.
The duo’s incision rocked the South African top order, leaving them at 89/4, and but for de Kock’s 94-ball 80 at No. 6, things could have gone further downhill for the home team.
Quinton de Kock spared South Africa's blushes but it was a superb start to the Durban Test for Sri Lanka, who bowled out the hosts for 235.#SAvSL REPORT 👇https://t.co/1pBCJL44jK pic.twitter.com/rCUqzivljm— ICC (@ICC) February 13, 2019
"I think they caught us off guard," de Kock said. "Going forward, we'll be much more alert to the bowling upfront. We've understood that Suranga Lakmal is a serious opening bowler that we have seen a lot of, and have good plans for, but were a bit unaware of the new guys."
While Fernando dismissed both the openers, Rajitha chipped away at the middle order, accounting for Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander and de Kock.
"The two new guys, we hadn't seen much," de Kock said. "We've only played one of them [Rajitha] in white-ball cricket once.
Bad light brings an end to day one in Durban. Dale Steyn equals Kapil Dev's tally of 434 wickets but it's Sri Lanka's day, the visitors ending on 49/1 after dismissing South Africa for 235.#SAvSL scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/ILua51ZiiN pic.twitter.com/ytIQpfFUKZ— ICC (@ICC) February 13, 2019
"To understand and change our gameplan can be quite tough, especially with the pitch. They bowled really well, they didn't miss their lengths often. We had work hard to get what we did."
Having had a feel for their skillset now, de Kock hoped South Africa could learn from their experience, but implored caution.
"I think what surprised us was just the angle of their bowling and the skills they had. They had different actions, some skiddiness, and some bounce," he said.
"But with those new guys, the batsmen have had a feel of them now, and we'll come back and see how we are going to go about it. We've got to keep our eyes open for them."
As for the home team’s own bowling attack, de Kock pinned Keshav Maharaj as their MVP as the game wears on. "I think early on, in the first hour or two, there definitely will be some movement in the wicket. But I think as the day goes on, it will get better," he said.
"I also think Keshav Maharaj will come into play a little bit more. As you see, the wicket is spinning quite a bit."