Quinton de Kock secured his third Test hundred as the Proteas surged to 392 at lunch on day two against Sri Lanka at Newlands.
Having started the day at 297-6, the Proteas had some licence to go at the Sri Lankans, and De Kock did this to good effect with a sweetly driven four off the first ball of the day, signalling an attack which would bring 95 runs for four wickets, ending the last ball before lunch.
That first four brought up the 300 and De Kock was to add another three to bring up the third century of his 15-match career. It was ironic that, having played with such control, particularly the spinners with immaculately timed late cuts, his milestone should arrive with a completely botched shot off Lahiru Kumara, slapping an inside edge millimetres past his stumps to the unprotected fine-leg boundary.
The appreciation of an extremely fine innings was followed by the anguish of an edge behind, just four balls later, off a fairly innocuous delivery. But he had his coveted hundred, with 11 fours, enhancing his reputation as a batsman who should be batting higher up. While his 68 had taken 90 balls on day one, the extra 33 came off 34 balls.
The Proteas would have hoped for a bit more, for suddenly, they were eight down within the hour. Nine overs earlier, nightwatchman Kyle Abbott, who might have fancied his chances of playing a few more of his drives which helped him accumulate 16 runs on Monday evening, survived just five balls before he feathered a catch to Dinesh Chandimal off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. It was a delivery which was probably more influenced by the howling wind that tore through Newlands than by any imparted turn.
Vernon Philander, who can play with aggression, seemed constrained by the difficult conditions until he was undone on 20, having faced 63 balls, by a loose drive at Kumara, giving the 19-year-old seamer a well-earned five-for. Keshav Maharaj positively raced to 32 off 35 (with three fours) while Kagiso Rabada was looking to dig in with eight off 17 before he became Kumara’s sixth victim off an inside edge.
Given the stuttering start the Proteas had – they were 69-3 at lunch on day one after being invited to bat – they have presented Sri Lanka with a formidable total and the Proteas quicks will be eager to see what they can get out of the helpful Newlands strip.
The Sri Lankans had their moments on day one, cutting short some promising partnerships at crucial times, but they were never able to press home their advantage. Now they will have to show their mettle in the middle to match the resilience of the Proteas.
Photo: Petri Oeschger/Gallo Images