Sri Lanka are 27-0 in pursuit of 488 at lunch on day four of the first Test at St George’s Park.
Sri Lanka will need to produce a special batting performance over the next two days in order to prevent South Africa from taking a 1-0 lead in this three-game Test series. The odds are certainly against this Sri Lankan side chasing down a formidable target of 488. Indeed, few may be inclined to bet on the visitors surviving the next five sessions and forcing a draw.
Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne played with patience and poise during the 60-minute period before lunch. They were tested by some fierce and accurate bowling, but managed to go to the break with their wickets intact.
The Proteas began the first session of day four with a commanding 432-run lead. Faf du Plessis (67 not out) and Quniton de Kock (69) took a few overs to settle before launching an assault on the Sri Lankan bowling.
Overall, the pair added 129 runs for the sixth wicket, and scored at nearly five runs an over. When De Kock missed a straight delivery by Rangana Herath 48 minutes into the first session, Du Plessis decided to declare.
Sri Lanka will need to break a couple of records in order to win this match. Australia chased down 271 at St George’s Park in 1997, and that fourth-innings effort remains a record at the ground to this day. West Indies hold the record for the highest successful run chase in all Tests (418 against Australia in 2003).
The Proteas have five more sessions to claim 10 Sri Lankan wickets. Sunny skies are forecast for the remainder of this Test. The hosts must be favourites to win the contest from here.
SA 1st innings 286 – Duminy 63, Cook 59, Lakmal 5-63, Herath 2-48
SL 1st innings 205 – De Silva 43, Mathews 39, Philander 5-45, Abbott 3-63,
SA 2nd innings 406-6 declared – Cook 117, De Kock 69, Du Plessis 67 not out, De Silva 2-91
SL 2nd innings 27-0 – Silva 14 not out, Karunaratne 10 not out
Sri Lanka need 461 runs to win