Sri Lanka had worked into an impregnable box seat stranglehold against South Africa with an imposing 272-run lead with six wickets intact at the end of the second day’s play of the first test match at the Galle International Stadium on Friday. South Africa were bundled out for 126 in 54.3 overs, and Sri Lanka were 111 for 4 in 37 overs.
Creating such a momentum of sniffing victory against the No.2 test team in the world were conspicuously the duo of Dimuth Karunaratne and all-rounder Dilruwan Perera. There was the 35-year old Perera taking over from where Karunaratne left yesterday as he spun a web around the opposition batsmen claiming 4 for 46 in 23 overs. He started the slide by firing out opening batsman D. Elgar who was well held by Angelo Mathews for 8, and prized batsman Hashim Amla who was lured to hole out to Kusal Mendis for 15. Perera accounted for those two wickets within 10 overs as the Proteas collapsed to 40 for 4 with Rangana Herath having sent back No.3 batsman K.A. Maharaj leg before wicket for 3. The score was then 2 for 9 with the veteran Lankan spinner taking his second wicket as hells bells set in the South African batting with the spin duo combining to exploit the turning Galle track to the hilt. The Lankans never relaxed with skipper Suranga Lakmal leading from the front excellently claiming 3 for 21 off just 4.3 overs. South Africa’s caving in was best illustrated by the 2.31 run rate an over in 54.3 overs consumed.
As Dilruwan Perera, who turns 36 years on July 22, gleefully announced at the press briefing after play, ‘our game plan to bowl them out early worked out superbly, even better than what we expected.’ Perera did voice that the team would look to go for the kill in a contest ‘where we are in a commanding position as early as the second day’.
When Sri Lanka batted a second time once again it was their first innings century making hero Dimuth Karunaratne who carved out a fine 60 off 80 balls hitting 7 boundaries in 80 balls in giving the right momentum to putting his team in command. At the wickets were Angelo Mathews on 14 off 48 deliveries and Roshen Silva on 10 off 14. Mathews, the former captain summoned all his experience to ward off the South African pace-spin attack in adding 28 for the fourth wicket with Karunaratne when he edged a delivery off Rabada to Amla in the slips. It was a praiseworthy effort by the opener who had altogether contributed in terms of gold in the game 158 and 60 for a tally of 210 Karunaratne fell with the total on 92 from where Mathews and Silva saw through the last 5 overs to safety.
Sri Lanka 1st Innings 287 All out (78.4 Overs)
And 111/4 (37 Overs).
(K.D.M. Karunaratne 60, M.D. Gunathilaka 17, A.D. Mathews n.o. 14, A.R.S. Silva n.o. 10, K.A. Maharaj 3/37)
South Africa 126 All out. (54.3 Overs)
F du Plessis 49, V.P. Philander 18, H.M. Amla 15, M.D.K. Perera 4/46, R.A.S. Lakmal 3/21)
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-