Sri Lanka survived a testing spell at the end of day two, but South Africa are in the driving seat in the first Test at Galle.
JP Duminy resumed on 72 as South Africa batted on after tea. While trying to force the pace, he was dropped at mid-off on 82 off Rangana Herath’s bowling. It seemed to be a sign to the batsman that it was his day and he motored on to record his fourth Test century off 206 deliveries.
Dilruwan Perera’s off-spiners consistently fizzed past Morne Morkel’s outside edge and even caused the occasional puff of dust on the pitch. It’s only day two, but the wicket has started to offer enough to suggest that scoring runs will be progressively more challenging. The off-spinner finally got his man, and the Morkel wicket brought the innings to an end on 455-9 declared.
The Proteas came at the hosts with 12 energetic overs at the end of the day. Dale Steyn bowled aggressively and Imran Tahir was given a couple of overs to weave his magic. However, the opening pair of Upul Tharanga and Kaushal Silva did a great job for Sri Lanka, taking them to 30-0 at stumps ensuring their weary middle order will get a night’s rest before facing the music.
Steyn and Tahir could cause havoc later in the innings with spin and reverse swing coming into play, as the abrasive pitch takes its toll on the ball. South Africa will start day three with their tails up and enjoying the luxury of carrying attacking fields, thanks to having so many runs to play with. The real question mark hanging over day three is whether the hosts will be able to withstand the South African onslaught.
Earlier in the day, Duminy and Vernon Philander resumed after lunch on 22 and 3 respectively. The game had come to a standstill in the latter part of the morning session, but they showed more intent immediately after the interval.
The ball started to turn appreciably and as a result Duminy in particular attacked Suranga Lakmal’s first spell of the afternoon. The left-hander drove the seamer crisply and a couple of quick boundaries gave the scoring rate a much needed jump start.
Duminy brought up his 50 with a power sweep, reaching the milestone off 99 deliveries. The innings is not only valuable in the context of this match, but will settle some doubts he may have had about playing in these conditions. In his previous six innings in Asia he averaged just 13.6.
Philander proved an able ally in the partnership that grew to 72 by the drinks break. After biding his time for almost an hour after lunch, he freed his arms and cashed in with a few quick runs just before the drinks came out. The two had taken South Africa to 386-7 after 137 overs.
Angelo Mathews trapped Philander in front for 27 straight after drinks. It was reviewed but the umpires decision was upheld. Morkel came to the crease and held up an end while Duminy continued to play freely, crunching a drive through the covers to bring up the 400. South Africa reached tea on 414-8.
In the morning session the Proteas battled to 331-7 at lunch, with 21-year-old Quinton de Kock registering his first half-century in the format. It was a tough morning for the South African batsmen, after some top bowling from Lakmal and Perera.
The bowlers had to shoulder a greater workload after Eranga split the webbing on his hand while fielding yesterday, and had to have eight stitches sewn into the wound. He is unlikely to feature in the rest of the game.
Lakmal bowled with pace and swing in the early part of the morning, and found reward for his work in the ninth over of the day, bowling nightwatchman Steyn with a swinging yorker. Steyn’s exit saw Duminy come to the crease at No 8.
De Kock and Duminy rotated the strike and kept the board ticking over. The keeper reached his maiden Test fifty with a gentle tap to square leg. However, he survived an lbw call, trying to sweep one, two balls later, and was then caught behind by Mahela Jayawardene two balls after that, getting an edge to a sharply turning off-spinner from Perera.
Philander joined Duminy at the crease after de Kock’s fall, and the two batted cautiously, until the lunch interval.
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