South Africa were on the verge of a 2-0 series whitewash of Sri Lanka at lunch on the third day of the second Betway test at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
The home side bowled Sri Lanka out for just 211 in their second innings, leaving South Africa needing just 67 runs for victory. The hosts were 24 without loss at the luncheon interval with Dean Elgar (8 not out) and Aiden Markram (16 not) looking relatively untroubled in pursuit of their modest target.
Markram did have his heart in his mouth in the last over before the lunch break as Vishwa Fernando (3-0-17-0) found the edge of Markam’s bat where Kusal Mendis dived from second slip and scooped the catch but the umpires went upstairs and the decision was overturned as the ball touched the ground.
Sri Lanka began the day on 150 for four with Dimuth Karunaratne on 91 and Niroshan Dickwella with his captain on 18. The Sri Lankan captain quickly moved to his 10th test ton off just 123 balls, however, the wheels fell off the cart shortly thereafter.
Anrich Nortje (19-2-64-2) then had Karunaratne pulling at a short ball, which took the top-edge and was caught by Wiaan Mulder at square leg. Dickwella fell in the next over, playing across the line to Lungi Ngidi (15-5-44-4), with the ball finding a leading edge and the catch being taken at mid-on by Temba Bavuma.
Mulder’s (13-3-52-1) first over produced another wicket as Dasun Shanaka (8) popped an easy catch to Lutho Sipamla on the leg side. Then enter Sipamla (9.5-1-40-3) with the ball.
The right-arm fast bowler cleaned up the tail with morning figures of 1.5-0-6-3 as the speedster clean-bowled Wanindu Hasaranga (16) and Asitha Fernando (0) while having Dushmantha Chameera caught behind by Quinton de Kock without scoring.
South Africa had dominated the first day’s play on Sunday after Sri Lanka had won the toss and elected to bat first. Nortje decimated the batting line-up, claiming career-best figures of 6-56 as Sri Lanka were bundled out for just 157.
Mulder started the rot buy claiming 3-25 before lunch on day one as Sri Lanka lost nine wickets for just 86 runs. Kusal Perera was the top scorer with 60 from 67 balls which included 11 boundaries but the only other batsmen to make it into double figures were Hasaranga (29), Chameera (22) and Lahiru Thirimanne (17).
In reply, Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen batted out the remainder of the first day, taking South Africa to the close on 148 for the loss of just Markram (5). The pair dominated the first hour on day two, adding 68 runs at almost five runs to the over.
But once the drinks break was complete, Sri Lanka struck back, reducing the Proteas to 256-5 at the luncheon interval. Elgar departed for 127, his 13th test ton while Van der Dussen went for 67, his fourth test half-century. Fernando claimed his first five-for, ending with 5-101 as South Africa were bowled out for 302, losing nine wickets for 84 runs before tea.
Sri Lanka, led by Karunaratne, closed out the day on 150 for four, a slender lead of just five runs with Dickwella hanging around with his captain. Ngidi had removed Perera early for just a single as Sri Lanka reached tea on 16 for one.
The afternoon sessions saw the home side, led by Ngidi, remove Thirimanne for 31 and then Mendis without scoring, a third time in a row. The debutant Minod Bhanuka did not last long as he was brilliantly caught by Keshav Maharak at mid-wicket off Nortje to leave the visitors on 109 for four.
But Karunaratne found a willing partner in Dickwella and the pair added 41 unbeaten runs to give them some hope of taking the match past day three.
**As published on Supersport.com