Kusal Perera scored his second half-century of the Test after Dale Steyn’s early strikes saw Sri Lanka go into lunch on 166-5 still needing 138 runs to win. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
The Proteas extended their control over Sri Lanka in the first session on day four of the first Test at Kingsmead.
After taking three crucial wickets in the final session on day three, it was the Proteas who started to tighten their upper hand on the match.
This set up a difficult day four for Sri Lanka. There was one positive for Sri Lanka, to the detriment of the home side, as news broke before the day’s play that Vernon Philander would be off the field after picking up a hamstring niggle.
The first hour saw Sri Lanka score 44 runs, but more importantly for the Proteas – and despite Philander’s absence – Steyn took two crucial wickets to knock Sri Lanka down 110-5.
Steyn’s first wicket was Oshada Fernando (37), breaking up his 58-run stand with Kusal Perera.
Steyn’s second wicket to remove the Sri Lanka vice-captain Niroshan Dickwella was a beauty. The wicketkeeper-batsman popped the ball straight back at Steyn, who plucked the ball of the air one-handed.
Perera remained the vital cog in the Sri Lanka innings by bringing up his fifth half-century, making it two in the match.
Sri Lanka draw confidence from having Perera at the crease, but more so Dhananjaya de Silva, whose 60 against the Proteas in Sri Lanka helped them set up a mammoth 199-run win that sealed their 2-0 whitewash.
De Silva needs to produce another crucial knock to give Sri Lanka’s run chase a real chance of success and he will have plenty of time to settle himself for a much-needed star performance. He ended the session unbeaten on 25.
The Proteas will need to break the pair’s solid 56-run partnership in order to expose the visitors’ tail and wrap up the match to secure a 1-0 series lead.
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