Hashim Amla played a captain’s knock and was unbeaten on 139 but Sri Lanka was the one in the driver’s sear at the second and final Test against South Africa in Colombo on Saturday (July 26).
Sri Lanka bowled out South Africa for 282 in its first innings, but Amla did well to keep the hosts at bay for nearly eight hours.
It was Sri Lanka’s dynamic spin duo of Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath that left the visitors in a tangle. While Perera took 5 for 69, his second five-for in Tests, Herath finished with figures of 4 for 71.
South Africa’s struggles against spin was made more apparent by the fact that aside from Amla, none of the other batsmen were able to score a half-century.
Sri Lanka, whose first-innings total was 421, was 11 for 0 at stumps in its second innings with an overall lead of 150.
Amla’s century was his first as Test captain and also the first by a South African captain in Sri Lanka. Crucially, his 382-ball knock – which contained 12 fours – helped his team avoid a follow on.
South Africa, resuming on its overnight score of 98 for 3, lost AB de Villiers (37) and Quinton de Kock for a duck in the space of three balls in the morning session.
Amla and de Villiers had started positively. The captain struck two consecutive fours off Ajantha Mendis and de Villiers followed his lead, smacking Suranga Lakmal for three boundaries in the same over.
De Villiers nearly gloved one off Lakmal to Niroshan Dickwella, the wicketkeeper, but television replays indicated that the ball had bounced short.
Though that turned out to be a false alarm, Perera trapped de Villiers lbw soon after and then knocked back de Kock’s stumps to reduce South Africa to 150 for 5.
South Africa then lost JP Duminy and Vernon Philander in a sluggish post-lunch session in which it went at three runs per over. Dickwella stumped Duminy off Herath and Perera grabbed another wicket, bowling Philander.
Amla, dropped on 93 at short cover by Kaushal Silva, was composed as ever and brought up his 22nd Test hundred with a single off Herath.
Perera mopped up the tail with the wicket of Morne Morkel, caught at forward short-leg, as Sri Lanka grabbed a 139-lead before seeing off a tricky five overs to stumps.