By Nick Said
PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa must find the right balance between youth and experience, according to captain Quinton de Kock, who praised the performance of his rookie bowlers in their innings and 45-run first test victory over Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
South Africa completed their handsome win just after lunch on the fourth day at Centurion Park, their first test victory in a year achieved with a new-look bowling attack that improved markedly as the game went on.
The triumph was also set up by a superb 199 from former captain Faf du Plessis, the most experienced member of the squad.
"You need to find that balance (between youth and experience) and Faf came out and showed his leadership qualities. He has been in a lot of pressure situations and there is no better player in the team for that," De Kock told reporters.
The seam attack of Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wiaan Mulder and Lutho Sipamla went into the game with only 12 test appearances between them, but the latter two, both 22, were particularly impressive.
"(Mulder’s) results speak for themselves, any team with an all-rounder that can add value with the ball and the bat is always key. It was great to see a youngster come out and bowl with maturity and intent," De Kock said.
Sipamla was erratic in his opening spell on the first morning, but finished with four wickets in the innings and six in the match.
"It was just test match debut nerves. We spoke to him and he came back really nicely," De Kock said. "He showed great character and it was great to see his fight."
With fit-again Kagiso Rabada set to return for the second test in Johannesburg starting on Jan. 3, one of the quartet is likely to miss out, unless they decide to play an all-seam attack and omit spinner Keshav Maharaj.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)