Sri Lanka managed to push themselves to 134-7 despite a dominant display by the Proteas bowlers and a wicketkeeping debut by David Miller, writes KHALID MOHIDIN from Newlands.
The Proteas had the perfect start after electing to bowl first. As expected, their seam attack was all over the Sri Lanka batsmen, who needed to find an extra burst of energy to compete with a rampant Proteas attack.
Dale Steyn came back into the mix and he struck instantly, giving David Miller his first catch behind the stumps as the designated wicketkeeper on the day. Miller comfortably pouched an edge from Niroshan Dickwella (0), who was in desperate need of form.
Kagiso Rabada then removed the danger man Kusal Mendis (0), who chipped to mid-on.
Lutho Sipamla (1-19) came in as a late replacement for Lungi Ngidi after the speedster picked up a left side strain, and he was the next bowler to get himself in the wickets column. Sipamla set Avishka Fernando (41) up for a lofted shot that drew out a fantastic catch from Reeza Hendricks on the ropes. The Proteas opener showed amazing spacial awareness on the boundary to pull off one of the catches of the series, lobbing the ball back into play as his momentum carried him over the ropes, before stepping back in to complete the catch.
The Proteas No 1 all-rounder, Andile Phehlukwayo, then stepped up and pulled off a beautiful knuckleball to clean bowl Angelo Perera for 16.
This was followed by another special moment for Miller, who is clearly being prepped as a backup keeper for the World Cup. In the 12th over, Miller solidified his case as Quinton de Kock’s white-ball understudy by completing his first international stumping. A beautifully flighted googly from Imran Tahir left Kamindu Mendis (41) stranded outside his crease, and Miller comfortably removed the bails, having read the trajectory perfectly.
This was a key wicket in the innings, as it knocked Sri Lanka down to 76-5 with the removal of the visitors’ top scorer.
Phehlukwayo (3-25) showed his effectiveness at the death when he forced Thisara Perera to sky a short delivery to Du Plessis at long-off and then followed this up by bowling Angelo Perera (0) with the next ball. This reduced the visitors to 113-7 in 18.3 overs.
Sri Lanka managed to squeeze out some desperate runs in the final two overs to lift their score to 134-7, which should be an easy total for the Proteas to chase.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Getty Images