Sri Lanka finished day two on 60-2 and needing 137 runs to win the second Test at St George’s Park after they skittled the Proteas for 128 runs. KHALID MOHIDIN reports.
Wickets, wickets and more wickets. That was the order of the day on day two at St George’s Park as a total of 18 wickets fell for 282 runs.
It started with Sri Lanka losing six wickets for 97 runs in the first session that saw them skittled for 156 in answer to the Proteas’ score of 222.
This gave the Proteas a cushion of 66 runs on the first innings, which should have been enough to set an unassailable target for Sri Lanka to chase, especially considering that they will be batting one man down in their second innings after Lasith Embuldeniya dislocated his left thumb. However, just like in the first Test, the Proteas botched the opportunity for total domination.
The Proteas’ batsmen undid all the hard work done by their seamers in restricting Sri Lanka to a surprisingly low first-innings total.
The Proteas lost a wicket before lunch and then four more in the session between lunch and tea. Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram were the top scorers in that period with 32 and 18 runs respectively, as the Proteas found themselves reeling at 91-5 at the tea interval.
The Proteas wickets continued to tumble after tea. Debutant Wiaan Mulder edged a delivery from Dhananjaya de Silva to first slip while Suranga Lakmal trapped Keshav Maharaj lbw for six. This saw the Proteas struggling at seven wickets down with just 113 runs on the board.
Lakmal took his third wicket when he removed Rabada for a duck, while De Silva picked up his third wicket when he removed Steyn for a duck. This left the Proteas nine down with just 116 runs on the board.
The Proteas would have had their hearts in their throats when Du Plessis took an unnecessary swing at De Silva – instead of taking a single to keep the strike – and was stumped, only for replays to reveal that De Silva had bowled a no-ball.
Du Plessis managed to reach his half-century, but his approach was puzzling. He allowed Duanne Olivier to face 13 balls, whereas perhaps he should have farmed the strike in an effort to stretch the Proteas’ lead as far as possible.
As a result, Oliver was dismissed for six and the Proteas were all out for 128, affording them a lead of just 197. Lakmal finished with figures of 4-39.
The Proteas pegged Sri Lanka back to 34-2 by the start of the 11th over, as first Rabada dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne (10) and then Olivier removed Dimuth Karunaratne (19).
Sri Lanka ended the day on 60-2, needing just 137 more run for the win and to claim an historic series victory. Kusal Mendis (10) and Oshada Fernando (17) will resume the run chase in the morning.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images