Sri Lanka are 118-2 in pursuit of 488 at tea on day four of the first Test at St George’s Park.
Earlier today, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock took the fight to the Sri Lankan bowlers and boosted the Proteas’ lead to 488 runs. When De Kock was dismissed and Du Plessis decided to declare, most felt that Sri Lanka would battle to survive the remaining five-and-a-half sessions.
Dumuth Karunaratne and Kausal Silva guided Sri Lanka through a difficult 60-minute period before lunch. The pitch offered the South African bowlers little assistance in the second session. The Sri Lankan openers showed terrific patience to score 87 runs in 32 overs.
The Proteas didn’t look like getting a wicket until spinner Keshav Maharaj was introduced. Silva pushed a delivery through to the offside and set off for the run. JP Duminy swooped on the ball and hurled it to De Kock, who whipped off the bails before a diving Karunaratne could make his ground.
Sri Lanka also contributed to the second dismissal. Kusal Perera flashed at a straight, wide delivery by Maharaj. The left-handed batsman only succeeded in edging the ball into the gloves of De Kock, and suddenly the visitors were two down.
Silva and Kusal Mendis took fewer risks in the period leading up to tea. The good news for Sri Lanka is that the pitch has flattened out.
The bad news is that four more sessions remain in this Test match, and Sri Lanka only have eight second-innings wickets in hand.
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 118-2 – Silva 48 not out, Karunaratne 43, Maharaj 1-39
Sri Lanka need 370 runs to win