Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan ripped through the Proteas’ top order as they limped to lunch at 86-6.
It was a horror session of play for the Proteas as the anticipated Sri Lankan spin trio did all the morning’s bowling ― and damage ― until skipper Suranga Lakmal brought himself on to bowl the last over of the session, which was also the first sight of seam in the innings.
Nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj was the first to go courtesy of Herath, who picked up his second wicket having dismissed Aiden Markram right before the close on day one.
Dean Elgar only managed eight runs before his technique failed him. He closed the face of the bat as he aimed to play Perera through mid-on but mistimed his stroke and hit the ground first, allowing the ball to find his outside edge and loop to first slip for a comfortable catch.
Hashim Amla scored 15 runs and looked positive, hitting confidently over the top, until Perera struck again after the batsman opted for a cautious forward push. Surprised by the extra bounce and turn, Amla popped up a simple catch to short leg off the finest of edges that he himself didn’t even pick up. Initially given not out, Sri Lanka reviewed the decision and ultra-edge showed a spike as the ball passed the top of Amla’s bat.
Temba Bavuma batted confidently, sweeping with assurance and looking solid, but after a couple of rash shots, he again attempted to sweep a full delivery which dragged a Sandakan delivery onto his stumps. Quinton de Kock looked uncomfortable from the moment he walked out to the crease. He scored three runs before he became Perera’s third victim. De Kock attempted a front foot defensive push but the ball spun past the outside edge and crashed into his off-stump.
The birthday boy, Faf du Plessis (22 not out), survived through to the lunch break and he faces the tough task of marshalling his tail-end to a respectable total.
On the plus side, Vernon Philander (16 not out) will have no better chance to display his all-rounder quality as he too saw out the remaining overs before lunch.
Umpire Paul Reiffel will be glad for the break as he had a couple of nervous moments with the finger, not the least of which was giving Philander out leg before when the ball was a good foot outside off-stump. Thankfully TV umpire Nigel Llong was up to the task and overturned Reiffel’s error.
Sri Lanka (first innings) 287 – Dimuth Karunaratne (157*), Kagiso Rabada 4-50, Tabraiz Shamsi 3-91.
South Africa (first innings) 86-6 – Faf du Plessis (22*), Vernon Philander (16*), Dilruwan Perera (3-28) Rangana Herath (2-34)
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images