Sri Lanka fought hard to reach 340-6 at stumps on day one of the opening Test against the Proteas in Centurion on Saturday.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first – making their intentions clear by being aggressive from the start against a very inexperienced Proteas bowling attack, which featured 22-year-old Lutho Sipamla on Test debut.
Sipamla in particular struggled at the beginning of the innings as the two Sri Lankan openers, Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera, made a quick start to their innings.
Lungi Ngidi, however, got the first breakthrough when he forced the Sri Lankan captain to chop a delivery on to his own stumps to depart for 22.
Anrich Nortje and Wiaan Mulder then delivered big blows with the wickets of Kusal Mendis (12) and Perera (16), which left Sri Lanka in a spot of bother at 54-3.
But, Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva regrouped their team’s innings and began to work their way around the ground with a couple of good strokes, while the Proteas bowlers began to feel frustrated with a number of close chances narrowly missing the edge of their bats.
The pair reached lunch without any further damage to their team’s score before properly kicking on in the second session of the day that saw post a 100-run stand for the fifth wicket on their way to respective half-centuries.
However, De Silva had to be carried off the field after pulling up with a hip injury that forced him to retire hurt on 75. Chandimal was joined Niroshan Dickwella in the middle and together they continued Sri Lanka’s dominance that guided the team to 212-3 at the tea break.
Desperate for wickets, Mulder picked up the important scalp of Chandimal, who nicked off to Faf du Plessis for 85, bringing an end to their 99-run partnership.
Mulder then struck again when he trapped Dickwella in front for 49 before Sipamla picked up his maiden wicket in red-ball cricket when Waning Hasaranga played one on to his own wickets.
Dasun Shanaka and Kasun Rajitha saw out the remainder of the day and made sure no further wickets tumbled as they finished unbeaten on 25 and 7 respectively by the close of play.
Proteas: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock (c) (wk), Temba Bavuma, Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (C) KJ Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.