Bowlers put Sri Lanka ahead

South Africa was left facing an uphill task after losing three wickets on the second day of the second Test against Sri Lanka, with the home side dominating the day’s play on Friday (July 25) at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.

At stumps, South Africa was 98 for 3, still trailing Sri Lanka by 323 runs. The spin-heavy Sri Lankan bowling attack kept the batsmen quiet, and South Africa will now look to its experienced duo of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers to retrieve the situation. Amla, the captain, was batting on 46 off 134 balls with de Villiers unbeaten on 11.

Sri Lanka’s spinners gave their side an early advantage after the batsmen, led by Mahela Jayawardena’s sublime 165 and debutant Niroshan Dickwella’s spunky 72 had piled up 421 all out. Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera both struck before tea, accounting for openers Alivro Petersen and Dean Elgar. Herath caught Petersen off his own bowling in the second over of the innings, while Elgar followed suit soon after, inside-edging Perera to short leg where Kaushal Silva dived forward to take a sharp catch.

Faf du Plessis then joined Amla and the duo shared a patient stand, attempting to rebuild from 13 for 2. The partnership was worth 58 runs before Suranga Lakmal broke through, half an hour before the close of play. Du Plessis swung at a wide delivery from Lakmal, only to find a thin edge that was pouched brilliantly by Dickwella, who dived to his left to take a one-handed catch.

Earlier, Sri Lanka had been all out after lunch, its innings ending after 121.4 overs. The first man to go after lunch was Perera, who became Imran Tahir’s only victim in the innings, lobbing a catch to Amla. A run-out accounted for Dickwella, who failed to make his ground while attempting a quick single. Dickwella hit one six and eight fours in his 116-ball knock. Vernon Philander then had Ajantha Mendis and Lakmal caught behind in successive overs to bring an end to Sri Lanka’s first innings.

The first session belonged to Jayawardena and Dickwella, who shared a 100-run stand for the sixth wicket. Jayawardena, due to quit Test cricket next month, hit 17 fours and a six during his nearly eight-hour stay at the crease before being run out by a direct hit from Petersen.

It was Dickwella who dominated the bowlers initially, when Sri Lanka resumed at its overnight 305 for 5, driving and cutting South African fast bowlers for fours to belie his debutant status. Jayawardena too picked up the pace, reaching the 150-run mark with a single to long leg off Dale Steyn.

Dickwella even hit Morne Morkel for two fours on the trot, the left-hand batsman arching back and lifting the second one high over the slip cordon. He carried on to complete his maiden Test half-century, with three runs off a full toss from Morkel that he nudged to the mid-on region.

South Africa leads the two-Test series 1-0 after winning the first match in Galle by 153 runs.