The Proteas reduced Sri Lanka to 82-3 after tea on day three while the visitors still need 221 runs for victory in the first Test at Kingsmead. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
It was another exciting day of Test cricket led by the bowlers from both sides. Eight wickets fell on day three, with Sri Lanka rapping up the Proteas innings before tea and the Proteas striking after tea.
The day did, however, start with some solid batting from the Proteas.
Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock shared a 96-run partnership which was key to the hosts’ recovery after losing four wickets for 95 runs on day two.
Both Du Plessis and De Kock recorded half-centuries as the Proteas took a 271-run lead into lunch on day three.
Having lost De Kock (55) before lunch, Du Plessis had the task of marshalling his tail, but he could only take the Proteas’ lead to 299 before he lost his wicket after an essential inning of 90.
The Proteas were bowled out for 259, setting the visitors a target of 304 to chase, a total that does not seem impossible if the Sri Lankans apply themselves at the crease.
The visitors got their chase off to a decent start by knocking 28 runs off their target.
Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander found early movement off the seam, but were unlucky as the ball missed the outside edge on numerous occasions prior to the tea interval.
The Proteas came out after tea and conceded just 14 runs before Lahiru Thirimanne (21) and Dimuth Karunaratne (20) were sent packing.
Kagiso struck first blood, finding Thirimanne’s outside edge and Philander trapped Karunaratne lbw. The Sri Lanka captain called for a review, but ball tracking showed that the ball would have just clipped the bails. Sri Lanka had been reduced to 42 for two in no time at all.
Oshada Fernando fought hard to keep his side in the game, scoring 28, while Kusal Perera added 12 runs before bad light and drizzle stopped play.
Sri Lanka ended the day on 83-3 and still need 221 runs to win.
Photo: Isuru Sameera Peiris/AFP/Gallo Images