Bowlers extend Sri Lanka’s dominance

The Sri Lankan trio of Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal and Rangana Herath struck at regular intervals as South Africa were snuffed out for just 126 in their first innings of the opening Test in Galle. Dimuth Karunaratne and Danushka Gunathilaka waded through a few testing moments as they finished the second session at 25 for no loss, taking in front by 186.

Faf du Plessis (49) and Philander resumed the innings after the Lunch break with the score reading 86 for 6. Barring an edge or two, du Plessis, in particular, looked in good nick and cracked an impressive punch off Lakmal. The duo of Philander and du Plessis stitched a useful stand of 64 before the former was dislodged LBW off Perera. Philander, who had survived a couple of close calls, elected for the review but to no avail.

By that stage of the innings, Lakmal had started to generate contrast swing with the old ball. He soon bowled a peach of a delivery that tailed in sharply to knock down the stumps of du Plessis. Lakmal also showed good bowling nous when he decided to try round the wicket angle to Kagiso Rabada and castled him with the one that nipped back in sharply. Rabada wasn’t covering the off-stump and Lakmal’s plan to bowl from round the wicket worked to perfection. The Sri Lankan skipper provided the finishing touches by sending Dale Steyn back to the hut. To make matters worse for the visitors, Gunathilaka was dropped off Keshav Maharaj in the second essay at the fag end of the afternoon session.

Despite Lakmal’s fine show in the second session, the day so far has belonged to Perera and Herath. The spin duo weaved their magic on South Africa’s batsmen as they collapsed in a heap in the morning session. On a track offering some assistance for spinners, the visitors were all at sea against Sri Lanka’s spinners. Most of the batsmen played down the wrong line as they kept looking for the turn and lost their wickets. Maharaj, the nightwatchman, was the first one to be dislodged. He played for the spin and was dismissed LBW by Herath’s arm ball. Elgar, who has a tendency to play with an angled bat against the off-spinner, was the next batsman to be dismissed. He too thought the delivery from Perera would turn, and attempted to play the drifter through the on side but could only edge it to slip.

For a while, Bavuma (17) and Amla resisted the Sri Lankan spinners by employing the sweep and loft. Just when the pair seemed to have paddled through the rough storm, Perera snuffed out South Africa’s mainstay Amla. He danced down the track but could only eke out an inside edge that deflected via his pad and into the hands of the FSL fielder. Initially, the on field umpire adjudged it as not out but the hosts took the review and the decision was overturned.

Bavuma followed Amla back to the hut as he tried a sweep off Lakshan Sandakan only to be castled via the inside edge. Quinton de Kock, the wicketkeeper-batsman, was the last one to fall before lunch, castled by a fine delivery from Perera that was well flighted and turned away from the left-hander to strike the off-stump. The replays to find out if Perera had overstepped were inconclusive, but the third umpire upheld the decision.

Brief scoresSri Lanka 287 (Dimuth Karunaratne 158*; Kagiso Rabada 4-50) and 25/0 lead South Africa 126 (Faf du Plessis 49; Dilruwan Perera 4-46) by 186 runs.

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