The Proteas declared at 224-7, a lead of 506 over the Sri Lankans midway through the afternoon session on day three of the second Test at Newlands.
The Sri Lankans’ response was undermined in the sixth over of the innings when a superb delivery from Vernon Philander was too good for Dimuth Kuranaratne, uprooting his leg stump with the score on 11. They went into tea at 17-1.
That was more or less then the plan at the start of the day when the Proteas, having opted not to force to follow-on, were looking to build a substantial lead. They indeed do have a substantial lead, but they probably weren’t expecting to lose seven wickets in 40 overs, and some will be rueing the fact they let the opportunity for a big score slip.
Players got in and got out, but among them Dean Elgar was at least able to pick up his fifth Test fifty in the morning session, moving on from 19 overnight to 55, when he edged a defensive shot to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath to first slip.
He will be annoyed about that, for after his hundred he spoke about kicking on consistently and getting big scores more often. This was the time to do it. At least he has a decent average from this series, with scores of 45 and 52 in Port Elizabeth and 129 in this first innings.
Earlier, the Suranga Lakmal dismissed Stephen Cook, who doubled his overnight score of 15 before pressing forward rather too solidly to edge to first slip, and then, four balls later, Hashim Amla. In fairness, he got a superb delivery which pitched on off stump and curved away to find the edge.
JP Duminy went on to 30 before being trapped lbw one ball before lunch, but he was lucky to get those. When on 14, he presented a strangely angled bat to a wide delivery from Nuwan Pradeep, which looped between the keeper and first slip at shoulder height. Neither man moved, except to turn and watch the ball trundle its way to the boundary.
No one else was able to get going, although both Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock looked as though they would cash in, but both fell to catches by Chandimal: Du Plessis (41) got a good ball from Lakmal; De Kock (29) a less threatening delivery from Kumara. Temba Bavuma (0) had rotten luck, being run out by a direct throw from mid-off. His bat was across the line, but in the air as he dived desperately.
It was left to Keshav Maharaj (20) and Vernon Philander (7) to take the Proteas to the declaration.
Lakmal ended with 4-69, but apart from personal pride, he showed the Proteas bowlers what is possible on the day-three Newlands wicket.
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