PORT ELIZABETH: Sri Lanka seamers Kasun Rajitha and Vishwa Fernando took three wickets each to bowl out South Africa for 222 on the first day of the second and final test on Thursday, but the hosts struck back late in the day with the ball.
The tourists were 60 for three at the close, still trailing by 162 runs on a wicket that is providing assistance for the fast bowlers, as well as some turn for the spinners.
Opener Lahiru Thirimanne (25 not out) and nightwatchman Rajitha (0 not out) will resume on day two, seeking to take Sri Lanka into the lead as they aim to become the first team from Asia to win a test series in South Africa.
Duanne Olivier (2-25) bowled Oshada Fernando (0) and had Kusal Mendis (16) caught to make early inroads into the Sri Lanka batting, while Kagiso Rabada grabbed the wicket of captain Dimuth Karunaratne (17) as the hosts fought back with the ball.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, it was a disappointing batting display from South Africa again. Their innings was dominated by a brisk 86 from Quinton de Kock and 60 from opener Aiden Markram.
“It was tough up front, the Sri Lanka bowlers didn’t give us much to work with,” Markram told reporters.
“For the first 20 overs the ball did quite a bit, then we would build a partnership and suddenly there would be some lateral movement off the wicket. You never really felt in.
“But 222 is less than what we wanted and less than how the pitch played, so we only have ourselves to blame as batsmen. Hopefully we can make the second innings count.”
South Africa were in early trouble at 15 for three as the excellent Fernando (3-62) removed Dean Elgar (6) and Hashim Amla (0) in consecutive deliveries, both bowled with balls that swung back into them and smashed into the stumps.
Temba Bavuma (0) was run out for a second time in three innings as South Africa wobbled, before Markram and captain Faf du Plessis (25) took the score to 73 before the latter was bowled the last ball before lunch.
Markram and debutant all-rounder Wiaan Mulder (9) were both trapped lbw by Rajitha (3-67), who then also grabbed the scalp of Keshav Maharaj (0), caught by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella.
De Kock scored freely as he put on 59 for the eighth wicket with Rabada (22), before being bowled by spinner Dhananjaya de Silva (2-15) and South Africa’s innings folded soon after that.
Sri Lanka won an epic first test by one wicket in Durban, a result that ensures South Africa’s streak of seven home series wins will come to an end.