Two sessions, 12 wickets: that was the sorry tale as Sri lanka staggered into tea at 124-6 in their follow-on innings on day three at the Wanderers
They are still 171 runs behind, after being bowled out for 131 within 90 minutes in the morning session.
Dimuth Karunaratne anchored the second innings, taking advantage of a drop on 14 to make a decent 50 with some good strokes until he was bowled by a magnificent ball from Kagiso Rabada.
He and Mendis (24) had at least applied themselves to put on 37 for the second wicket – the highest partnership of the innings – until Wayne Parnell made the breakthrough in his first over of the second innings, removing Mendis for 24, his third wicket of the day.
There was another breakthrough, too, for debutant Duanne Olivier seven overs later when Dhananjaya da Silva edge to second slip. It was another wonderful delivery which forced the batsman to play, just as he did to take two wickets in the first innings.
Faf du Plessis had demanded a ruthless performance and he got it when his bowlers dismissed Sri Lanka for 131, trailing by 295.
Given that his strike force had bowled just 17 overs between them in the morning, as Sri Lanka collapsed from 80-4 overnight, he had no hesitation in enforcing the follow-on.
There were some remarkable performances throughout the day; none less than the utterly superb effort by Faf du Plessis, leaping high at second slip to take a one-handed catch to dismiss Angelo Matthews off Olivier – his fourth wicket of the day – in their second innings.
The gods were against Mathews, for he had been dismissed by a similarly spectacular catch by De Kock in the morning session; the keeper diving to his right to snaffle the low catch just in front of Hashim Amla at first slip.
It was the result of another perfect delivery from Rabada, which Mathews tried to defend on his toes.
Olivier deserved his reward. In the first innings he removed Rangana Herath with a pace-bowler’s dream delivery. It just kept rising at the hapless batsman, which he could only fend off to Stephen Cook at short leg. His second was more prosaic, angled away from Upal Tharanga (24) to find the edge on its way to Dean Elgar at third slip. As too was Olivier’s third, taken by Du Plessis with a low chance. But all were from top-class deliveries.
The bowling all round was of the highest quality, even though the wicket did not provide as much spiteful movement as it did on the morning of day two, when South Africa were rolled out.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images