Terrible shots were our downfall - Mathews

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Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews was in no doubt that "terrible" shot selection was the reason for the tourists' downfall in the first Test against South Africa.

Mathews' side looked in a good position in the early stages of the first Test in Port Elizabeth, restricting the hosts to 286 all out having lost the toss.

But a series of poor strokes undermined their reply, Sri Lanka tumbling to 22-3 before eventually conceding a first-innings lead of 81.

That allowed the Proteas to set a huge target on an improving wicket, and on Friday's final day the tourists lost their remaining five wickets in just over an hour, falling to 281 all out and a crushing 206-run defeat.

"The bowlers did well to restrict them to 286, but then it was hard work for the batters in the first two days," Mathews said in his post-match presentation.

"The wicket got better but it was a poor show, especially in the second innings [Sri Lanka's first], we played terrible shots and that was our downfall.

"We have to bat well from the beginning otherwise we have to come back strong. We have a couple of days rest [before the second Test in Cape Town] and we'll try our best to turn things around. 

"It's not the skill, it's the mindset, we have to be tough out there. We're up against a quality side and we have to put runs on the board for our bowlers to bowl at.

"Hopefully we can better the performance in the next game."