Sri Lanka were 181-7 and 105 runs behind South Africa at stumps on day two at St George’s Park.
Eleven wickets fell on day two of this the first Test of the series between South Africa and Sri Lanka. There was joy for the visitors as their bowlers – led by Suranga Lakmal, who claimed his first five-for in Test cricket – dismissed the Proteas for a modest 286.
Yet, the South African bowlers made great use of the conditions and ultimately played their side into a position to win this match. Vernon Philander was in his element on a seam-friendly track while Kyle Abbott was also rewarded for his accuracy.
The Proteas will be favourites to win from here and take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series. The pitch has dried out over the first two days. Sri Lanka, who may be chasing a target in excess of 300, will have to deal with the challenge of batting last on this track.
Seven wickets fell in the first session on day two. The effort capped a great fightback from Sri Lanka. At one stage on day one, the Proteas were 178-2 and appeared to be on course for 400.
But the visitors’ celebrations came to end after Sri Lanka lost three wickets in the period leading up to lunch. By tea, the visitors were reeling at 104-5.
The Proteas’ performance was far from perfect. Their batting late on day one and in the first session on day two left a lot to be desired. They let a couple of chances slip in the field, and used their two reviews poorly.
Philander removed the dangerous Dinesh Chandimal after tea with a beautiful delivery that jagged back and trapped the batsman lbw. Rangana Herath played well before he attempted one sweep too many and was dismissed by Keshav Maharaj. At that stage, it seemed as if the Sri Lankan innings would end before the close of play, and that they would trail South Africa by 100 runs or more.
The defiant batting of Dhananjaya de Silva allowed the visitors to survive. The umpires then made the call to leave the field due to bad light, a call that would have been welcomed by the battling side. As many as 22 overs were lost because of the bad light.
SA 1st innings 286 – Duminy 63, Cook 59, Lakmal 5-63, Herath 2-48
SL 1st innings 181-7 – De Silva 43 not out, Mathews 39, Philander 3-35, Abbott 2-49,
Sri Lanka trail by 105 runs
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images