Key wickets keep Sri Lanka in the chase at St George’s
Port Elizabeth — Sri Lanka seamer Kasun Rajitha grabbed two wickets as South Africa limped to 91 for five at tea on day two of the second and final test at St George’s Park on Friday as the game continues to move forward at pace.
The home side have an overall lead of 159, but suffered a massive blow when they lost in-form Quinton de Kock on the last ball before the interval, caught and bowled by Suranga Lakmal.
Captain Faf du Plessis (31 not out) will resume after the break with debutant all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, seeking to push the South African lead past 200.
The home side’s top-order struggles have continued as opener Dean Elgar’s wretched form meant he was out for two on the last ball before lunch to seamer Vishwa Fernando.
Aiden Markram (18) had looked in good touch before he turned a Rajitha (2-20) delivery to Oshada Fernando at a short mid-wicket and Temba Bavuma (6) edged the same bowler to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella.
Hashim Amla (32) was out 10 minutes before the interval when he edged part-time spinner Dhananjaya de Silva to slip, and the wicket of De Kock made it Sri Lanka’s session.
The bowlers have done superbly to restrict the home side, especially as they are without frontline slow bowler Lasith Embuldeniya, who broke his thumb attempting a caught and bowled in South Africa’s first innings and is out of the test.
Earlier, fast bowler Kagiso Rabada took four wickets as South Africa raced through Sri Lanka’s batting line-up to bowl the tourists out for 154.
Sri Lanka came out guns blazing from their overnight 60 for three, but the home side kept chipping away at the wickets column and took 90 minutes to end the tourists’ innings.
The visitors clearly had a plan to attack the home bowlers and scored 94 runs in 17.4 overs, but could not stem the fall of wickets.
Opener Lahiru Thirimanne (29) provided a caught and bowled chance for Duanne Olivier, who took three for 61, before Rabada removed nightwatchman Rajitha.
Kusal Perera, the centurion hero from the first test in Durban, continued where he left off by racing to 20 from 15 balls before he edged Rabada to wicketkeeper De Kock.
The home side made light work of the lower order, though Dickwella (42) mounted a spirited fightback before he was the last man out, a fine running catch from Elgar off Rabada, who finished with four for 38.
Sri Lanka won an epic first test by one wicket in Durban, a result that ensured South Africa’s streak of seven home series wins will come to an end.
If they avoid defeat in Durban, the touring side will become the first side from Asia to win a test series in South Africa.