Walking out to bat at No 5, less than half an hour into South Africa’s innings, Faf du Plessis would have quickly realised there is little backing to his defence that his batsmen are not troubled by spin. They looked in troubled waters, at sea, at a deep end of the Indian Ocean. For a second day in a row the tourists went to Lunch in a deflated state. More miserable today, than yesterday. Rangana Herath and Akila Dananjaya – first with the bat and then with the ball – were their agony strikers on Day 2 as the visitors were reduced to 19 for 3.
In hindsight, South Africa might rue their decision to not press for the final wicket in the dying minutes on Friday. The pair’s 20-minute stay extended by 70 more on Saturday morning (July 21) to help the hosts take the late advantage that could have very well been in their favour. The frustration for the bowlers was not only about their lengthy stay of the tailenders, but also about the 74 runs the last-wicket pair managed to add to take their team total to 338 before Keshav Maharaj managed to induce an edge off Herath’s bat to leg slip and finish with nine wickets (for 129) – a bowling figure bettered only by one South African, Hugh Tayfield.
Having already played out more than an hour on Day 2, Herath and Dananjaya had done enough to dampen South Africa’s spirit. And after a 10-minute innings change break, they were back again to add to their agony. Dananjaya, sharing the new ball with Dilruwan Perera, struck twice off his first eight deliveries – sending back Dean Elgar and Theunis de Bruyn. While Elgar got a leading edge to slip, de Bruyn played inside the line and got an edge to the ‘keeper.
Aiden Markram, who looked competitively more solid, was trapped soon after by Herath’s arm ball to reduce the tourists to 15 for 3. The only moment of glory that came their way was when Danushka Gunathilaka dropped Hashim Amla at short cover to allow him to take his third run and become the third South African to register 9000 Test runs.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 338 (Dhananjaya de Silva 60, Danushka Gunathilaka 57; Keshav Maharaj 9-129, Kagiso Rabada 1-55) lead South Africa 19/3 (Akila Dananjaya 2-6) by 319 runs