The Proteas posted 235 thanks to 80 from Quinton de Kock before Sri Lanka ended day one with 49-1 at Kingsmead. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
Sri Lanka dominated the first day of the first Test at Kingsmead as the visiting side took advantage of the humid conditions and found early swing with the new ball to hassle the Proteas’ top order.
Sri Lanka won the toss, elected to bowl and their decision was instantly justified as the Proteas’ top three collapsed.
The hosts were reduced to 17-3 before a gritty partnership between Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma started a temporary fightback.
They only managed to bump their side up to 89-3 with a 72-run partnership before Du Plessis lost his wicket on the stroke of lunch to put the visitors in a position of power.
The Proteas went into the break on 89-4 and with a lot of work ahead of them.
After lunch, Bavuma and De Kock took their side past the 100-run mark, but the former was dismissed in a bizarre manner. De Kock’s attempted drive was deflected by the bowler’s foot and crashed into the stumps at the bowler’s end. Bavuma tried to dive back, but he was not quick enough to his crease.
A 47-run partnership between Keshav Maharaj (29) and De Kock helped take the Proteas from 131-6 after the fall of Vernon Philander’s wicket, to 178-7 after the fall of Maharaj’s wicket for Fernando’s third.
The Proteas managed 181-7 by tea.
Shortly after the break, Fernando picked up his fourth to enter career-best territory with the dismissal of Kagiso Rabada, who chipped a hip-height delivery straight to deep square leg.
Steyn came out and hit a few boundaries to take the Proteas within touching distance of the 200-run mark before De Kock continued his fine form by picking up his 15th half-century.
The aim was to squeeze out as many runs as possible to post a respectable first innings total, which saw De Kock up the ante. Steyn was bowled by the debutant Lasith Embuldeniya after contributing 15. With the Proteas on 219-9, De Kock romped the ball to third man who dropped a sitter with him on 64.
He only managed to reach 80 before he lost his wicket trying to score quickly, Rajitha picking up his third wicket.
The Proteas were bowled out for 235 in their first innings and needed to strike early with the ball to cover up their poor batting performance.
Steyn removed Lahiru Thirimanne for a 15-ball duck, which was the only wicket to fall. Sri Lanka ended the day trailing by 186 before bad light stopped play.
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