Opting not to enforce a follow-on, the Proteas ended day two of the second Test 317 ahead after smashing Sri Lanka for 110 runs in 43 overs at Newlands.
At the crease were Dean Elgar (15) and Stephen Cook (18) as the Proteas (35-0) set about building on their first innings of 392 and presenting Sri Lanka with an impossible target with three days to play.
Five wickets either side of tea tore the heart out of the visiting line-up. With the judicious use of left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada and a gusty wind, the Sri Lankans fell from 56-1 to 78-6 within the space of nine overs. It was then left to Vernon Philander to take four wickets for 14 runs in a four-over spell and clean up the innings.
The visitors did themselves no favours by playing some poor shots, but they were kept under constant pressure by the accuracy and intrigue of Maharaj bowling into the wind and the pace and precision of Rabada, using the added impetus of the chilly south-easter.
Maharaj stared the rot on the stroke of tea when he had Kusal Mendis caught at short cover as he attempted a sweeping shot which had, three balls previously, brought him a six over cow corner.
Immediately after the break, Dimuth Karunaratne, who had held the fort in the first session, scoring 24 off 73 balls in difficult conditions, was dismissed by a fine catch by Temba Bavuma at point off Rabada as he tried to cut a wideish ball that could have been left. It was Rabada’s 50 Test wicket in his 13th appearance.
It was also his second wicket of the game, having made the breakthrough by dismissing opener Kaushal Silva (11), who played on while attempting to defend a rising delivery with the score on 31.
The 21-year-old paceman, who was not his usual self in the first Test in Port Elizabeth, was now on a roll. From 1-23 off six, he proceded to take three for 10 off the next five, including Angelo Mathews (2) and Dinesh Chandimal (1). Maharaj also cashed in on an irresponsible shot by Dhanajaya de Silva, playing across the line to be trapped lbw for 16.
With Sri Lanka reeling at 78-6 and Rabada taking a breather, it was left to the unerring Philander to clean up the tail for the addition of 32 runs. Just 43 overs were bowled.
It was the icing on the cake after Quinton de Kock’s third Test hundred has pulled the Proteas to a formidable total.
He had resumed his innings on 68 among the Proteas 297-6 on Tuesday morning and signalled his intent with a sweetly driven four off the first ball of the day, launching an attack which would bring 95 runs for four wickets in 26 overs, ending the last ball before lunch.
De Kock was to add four fours to bring up the third century of his 15-match career. It was ironic that, having played with such control, particularly the spinners with immaculately timed late cuts, his milestone should arrive with a completely botched shot off Lahiru Kumara, slapping an inside edge millimetres past his stumps to the unprotected fine-leg boundary.
The appreciation of an extremely fine innings was followed by the anguish of an edge behind, just four balls later, off a fairly innocuous delivery. While his 68 had taken 90 balls on day one, the extra 33 came off 34 balls.
The expected support from the tail did not materialise, apart from a wonderful cameo from Maharaj, who positively raced to 32 off 35, but it was more than enough.
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