Cook ton hands South Africa control

South African batsman Stephen Cook (R) raises his bat and helmet as he celebrates after scoring a century (100 Runs) during the second day of the first cricket Test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka on December 28, 2016 at the Port Elizabeth stadium, South Africa. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Stephen Cook’s century led a combined batting effort to hand South Africa control of the opening Test against Sri Lanka on the third day at St George’s Park on Wednesday (December 28).

Cook’s 117, his third century in only seven Tests, guided his side to 351 for 5 at stumps. That gave South Africa a lead of 432 after Vernon Philander’s 5 for 45 earlier in the day saw Sri Lanka dismissed in its first innings for 205, having conceded a lead of 81.

No team has successfully chased more than 271 in the fourth innings at this ground.

Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock were batting at 41 and 42 at the close, having added a brisk 74 off 92 balls till then.

Cook, whose Test-best effort came off 178 balls with 11 fours, shared vital century partnerships with Dean Elgar (52) for the first wicket and Hashim Amla (48) for the second. Cook and Elgar, who had a century stand in the first innings as well, added 116 for the opening wicket. Then, Cook and Amla added 105 for the second wicket off only 118 balls.

Sri Lanka was made to rue its missed chances in the field, with Cook getting a life on 62, and its bowlers failing to make inroads.

Dushmantha Chameera finally got the opener after tea, out caught behind. Dhananjaya de Silva, the offspinner, sent back JP Duminy and Temba Bavuma in consecutive overs.

Suranga Lakman, who picked up five wickets in the first innings, could only add the scalp of Dean Elgar to his tally on the day.

Earlier, Sri Lanka, who had resumed on 181 for 7 in pursuit of the home side’s 286, lost its last three wickets for 24 runs and posted 205.

Philander struck twice in the first over of the morning. He had de Silva (43) edge to de Kock behind the wickets with an outswinger and Lakmal caught by Kyle Abbott at mid-on.

Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep added 20 for the last wicket before Chameera edged Abbott to Amla at first slip after making a Test-best 19. Abbott finished with 3 for 63 while Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj took one wicket each.

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(Courtesy: International Cricket Council)