Keshav Maharaj took three wickets to reduce Sri Lanka to 168-3 at tea on day one of the second Test in Colombo.
The Proteas’ team selection was the biggest talking point during the first session. The decision to drop Tabraiz Shamsi was a puzzling one, as the Proteas opted for three seamers and one spinner on a turning Colombo wicket. This seemed to be a poor judgement call from the visitors’ management team.
Sri Lanka’s opening pair, Danushka Gunathilaka and Dimuth Karunaratne, proved this and racked up 93-0 by lunch.
The duo continued to frustrate the Proteas bowlers and reached their 100-run partnership shortly after the break. This was Sri Lanka’s first century opening stand since October 2016. Both Gunathilaka and Karunaratne brought up their half-centuries shortly after; for Gunathilaka it was a maiden Test half-century, while for Karunaratne it was his 16th to add to his eight Test centuries.
The visitors refused to give up, however, as Maharaj brought the Proteas back into the match by dismissing both openers. Karunaratne (53) was the first to go, feathering a leg-glance to Quinton de Kock, who moved quickly to his right to pouch an excellent catch. So fine was the edge that De Kock actually attempted a stumping before realising that he had taken the catch.
Maharaj struck again shortly after that dismissal, luring Gunathilaka into a slog-sweep which he skied, allowing a diving Kagiso Rabada to take a stunning catch. Rabada had sprinted in from deep square leg and took a stunning, two-handed catch to send Gunathilaka packing after a well-played 57.
Du Plessis continued to rotate his fast bowlers in quick sessions from the one end, while Maharaj held up the other.
Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Mendis came to the wicket with an attacking mindset and the Proteas capitalised. The pair managed to pass the 150-run mark before Maharaj lured Mendis out for a sweep. This time Rabada ran in from backward-square and took a simple catch at mid-wicket.
Sri Lanka ended the session with De Silva (19) and Angelo Mathews (10) at the crease. Mathews became the ninth Sri Lankan to pass 5,000 Test runs shortly before the end of the second session, as Sri Lanka posted 168-3.
Sri Lanka (first innings) 168-3 – Danushka Gunathilaka 57, Dimuth Karunaratne 53, Keshav Maharaj 3-64.
Photo: Isuru Sameera Peiris/AFP/Gallo Images