The Proteas continued to turn the screw on Sri Lanka, pushing on to 136 for four at lunch, a lead of 418, on day three of the second Test at Newlands.
Lunch was taken when JP Duminy was dismissed lbw one ball before the scheduled break, having scored 30, with five fours, whie Faf du Plessis was on 20.
Duminy asked for a review, but he had spent so much time debating the issue the umpire justly refused. It would have been wasted anyway. He was plumb and Suranga Lakmal had his third wicket of the day.
The only other points of concern in the morning session were the rapid dismissal of Stephen Cook, who added 15 to his overnight score of 15 before pressing forward rather too solidly to edge Lakmal to first slip, and then, four balls later, of Hashim Amla. In fairness, he got a superb delivery: it pitched on off stump and curved away to find the edge. South Africa were suddenly 64-2, but from a Sri Lankan perspective, they were 346-2.
That could have narrowed to 382-3 when Duminy, on 14, 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. And he got away with an lbw appeal the following delivery on review (going over the top). That sort of summed up the Sri Lankans’ day.
Dean Elgar, however, buoyed by his first-innings century, was looking in fine form, particularly on the pull. He moved from 19 overnight to his fifth Test fifty when he then 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.
Much hot air was generated overnight in the debate over whether Du Plessis should have enforced the follow-on. The Proteas had a lead of 282, a total the Sri Lankans had never reached against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on an easy pitch. The suggestion from Vernon Philander was that the captain was protecting his bowlers after the hard work needed in the first Test and the quick turnaround. But to counter that, they had bowled just 43 overs, and the stumps were due after 11.
Still, the Proteas had the right to bat Sri Lanka out of the game. They probably have already, but it is likely that the declaration will come nearer tea, with the visitors facing a target around 550.
If they are to put up any resistance, they have to start playing sensible cricket. As they did in Port Elizabeth, they gave away soft wickets in their first innings at Newlands with reckless and thoughtless shots. But that is not to take anything away from the South African bowling which has been precise and incisive.
Maharaj Keshav, often regarded as a containing bowler while the quicks do the damage, has shown he can strike in his own right, and he will be looking to build his CV on a pitch which should offer him more help as the day goes on … especially if the wind continues to assist his flight variation, as it did on day two.
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