Sri Lanka strike back with quick wickets

Just when it seemed like South Africa were strengthening their grip on the second Test by extending their lead to 159, Sri Lanka struck twice minutes before the break to bounce right back reducing the hosts to 91 for 5 at Tea on the second day, losing four wickets in the session.

Not much happened in the first-half of the second session with South Africa having made little progress, but Aiden Markram’s wicket to a poor ball on the pads that he ended up flicking brought in du Plessis to join hands with Amla to get a move on, with the skipper scoring five boundaries of his 31 runs off 36 balls, unbeaten at the break on Friday (February 22). The pair added 39 runs in 56 balls to extend South Africa’s lead for the fourth wicket.

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 after ballooning in the air. He, however, couldn’t see the session through, or get a substantial score, falling to Dhananjaya de Silva for 32 on the brink of Tea, done in by the dip. Sri Lanka then sent back Quinton de Kock, who had scored a dynamic 86 in the first innings, after he got a thick leading edge that the bowler, Lakmal, picked up in his follow-through after the batsman tried to play a delivery that was angling in on the on-side.

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. Sri Lanka were already one player short going into the second day’s play after Lasith Embuldeniya was ruled out of the remainder of the Test due to a surgery on his thumb for an injury he picked up on the opening day. They technically needed just six wickets after having reduced the opposition to 60 for 3 before stumps yesterday. It didn’t take them long to make inroads as Kagiso Rabada and Duanne 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 Dhananjaya de Silva to edge one when the batsman was on 19. Keshav Maharaj then had Suranga Lakmal caught well inside his crease and even a review couldn’t save him after three reds. 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 & 91/5 (Faf du Plessis 31*, Hashim Amla 32; Kasun Rajitha 2-20) lead Sri Lanka 154/9 (Niroshan Dickwella 42; Kagiso Rabada 4-38) by 159 runs.

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