The Proteas took a 271-run lead into lunch on day three thanks to half-centuries from Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
The Proteas started day three at Kingsmead with a tough task ahead of them. Whether they would get to their desired target or not was not the concern, but essentially how they would handle the challenges thrown at them by Sri Lanka on their way to achieving their goal.
The Proteas were 170 runs ahead with two quality batsmen at the crease – Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock – the presumption was that the road to building a solid 250-plus lead would be an easy task. It would take hard work and grafting to see off the Sri Lankan bowling attack, especially if a wicket or two fell.
Sri Lanka threw everything at the Proteas.
As predicted, they made it difficult for De Kock to be his free-flowing self as he suffered an early blow in the ribs to cause him some discomfort.
Du Plessis, at the other end, fought for every run as he continued to build a solid partnership with his partner. The Proteas skipper’s edge dropped just short of Kusal Mendis in the slips halfway through the first session. This was an indication that luck was on their side as they started to take the reins against the visitors.
De Kock reached his 16th Test fifty as his partnership with Du Plessis grew closer to the 100-run mark. But Sri Lanka got their necessary breakthrough when Lasith Embuldeniya trapped De Kock lbw on 55 to break their 96-run stand.
Shortly after, Du Plessis followed suit in reaching his 18th half-century as he set about rebuilding the innings with Vernon Philander, who was the last protector of the tail.
Du Plessis (72) and Philander (12) took the Proteas to 227-5, which extended the lead to 271.
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