The Proteas struggled to find an early breakthrough as Danushka Gunathilaka and Dimuth Karunaratne racked up 93-0 by lunch on day one of the second Test.
The Proteas decided to ignore their struggles against spin by dropping their second spinner and bringing in Theunis de Bruyn. This saw Tabraiz Shamsi sacrificed despite a decent return (3-91 and 1-37 ) in the first Test in Galle.
With the Proteas bowling first, it was not only Shamsi who lost out. Vernon Philander was dropped and the visitors opted for extra pace by bringing in Lungi Ngidi, despite the presence of a spin-friendly wicket.
Captain Faf du Plessis decided to rotate his three seamers up front and the toss proved to work in the home side’s favour. The Sri Lankan openers – Gunathilaka and Karunaratne – took advantage of the flat surface and quick outfield as they brought up 50 runs in 13 overs.
This forced Du Plessis to bring in Keshav Maharaj in the 15th over, but he failed to find a much-needed wicket, going for 24 in his first seven overs.
Du Plessis showed his regret for not having a second spinner in his arsenal by bringing in part-time spinner Aiden Markram in the 24th over. Markram conceded just eight runs in his first three overs, finding some good turn on the pitch.
Nonetheless, the session was controlled by Sri Lanka’s opening pair, as the hosts posted a comfortable 93 without loss by lunch, in search of Sri Lanka’s first century partnership for the opening stand since October 2016.
Sri Lanka (first innings) 93-0 – Danushka Gunathilaka 44, Dimuth Karunaratne 42, Aiden Markram 0-8, Lungi Ngidi 0-14.
Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images