SL in with a chance of creating history after SA crumble

Sri Lanka are in with a chance to create history after having bowled out South Africa in their second innings for just 128, on a day when as many as 18 wickets fell. In Port Elizabeth, momentum in the second Test swung like a pendulum on the second day, ending with Sri Lanka needing 137 to win in a chase of 197.

Sri Lanka got off to a steady start in the chase, but Kagiso Rabada struck to eke out a faint edge off Lahiru Thirimanne before Duanne Olivier struck in the next over to get skipper Dimuth Karunaratne as Sri Lanka were dealt a double blow 15 minutes or so shy of stumps. There was no further damage done as the visitors ended the day on 60 for 2.

Just when it seemed like South Africa were strengthening their grip on the second Test, Sri Lanka struck twice minutes before the Tea break to bounce right back, reducing the hosts to 91 for 5. On the other side of Tea, South Africa were bowled out rather quickly, losing 7 for 38. That, without their mainstay spinner in Lasith Embuldeniya, who was ruled out with a thumb injury.

In his absence, Dhananjaya de Silva stood up and delivered for the visitors with a three-wicket haul, along with Suranga Lakmal finally being rewarded for his consistency with lines and lengths that gave him four wickets as South Africa slipped fast, with single-digit scores for eight of their 11 batsmen, despite Faf du Plessis’s fighting half-century that held the innings together.

There was quite a bit of drama as Du Plessis was stumped with South Africa’s lead at 186. However, De Silva’s overstepping gave him a life, or South Africa’s innings would’ve been done for. Luckily for the visitors, the reprieve didn’t cost them too much as du Plessis remained unbeaten on 50, but Lakmal got Olivier soon after to wrap up the innings.

Not much happened in the first-half of the middle session with South Africa having made little progress, but Aiden Markram’s wicket to a poor ball on the pads that brought in Du Plessis to join hands with Amla to get a move on. The pair added 39 runs in 56 balls to extend South Africa’s lead. Sri Lanka got Dean Elgar on the brink of lunch to Vishwa Fernando once again, but Amla and Markram were steady before the latter fell.

Amla was then dropped in the slips after a straightforward chance was grassed. He, however, couldn’t see the session through, or get a substantial score, falling to de Silva for 32, done in by the dip. They then picked up Quinton de Kock, who had scored a dynamic 86 in the first innings, for cheap after he got a thick leading edge that Lakmal picked up in his followthrough, with the hosts once again losing a wicket on the brink of a break, with momentum shifting to Sri Lanka, which they held since.

South Africa’s bowlers were clinical in the opening session to help their side pick up a handy 68-run lead after bowling Sri Lanka out for 154. They technically needed just six wickets after having reduced the opposition to 60 for 3 before stumps, and it didn’t take them long to make inroads as Rabada and Olivier struck early.

Although Sri Lanka’s batsmen tried to score as many runs as quickly as possible to reduce the deficit, the loss of regular wickets hurt them. South Africa’s bowlers on the other hand were rewarded for persistence with the line outside off, just as was seen yesterday in the final session. They had assistance from the track as well and made the most of it.

Wiaan Mulder picked up his maiden Test wicket when he got De Silva for 19. Keshav Maharaj then had Suranga Lakmal trapped leg before inside his crease and even a review couldn’t save him. Niroshan Dickwella’s 36-ball 42 had runs come quickly for the visitors, but they were well short of South Africa’s first innings total of 222.

Brief scores: South Africa 222 & 128 (Faf du Plessis 50*, Hashim Amla 32; Suranga Lakmal 4-39, Dhananjaya de Silva 3-36) lead Sri Lanka 154/9 & 60/2 (Dimuth Karunaratne 19) by 137 runs

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