Sri Lanka made it loud and clear that their one-wicket win in Durban was no fluke as they produced yet another power-packed bowling performance to edge ahead on the opening day of the second Test at Port Elizabeth on Thursday (February 21).
Fast bowlers Kasun Rajitha and Vishwa Fernando shared three wickets each while part-time spinner Dhananjaya de Silva chipped in with two to bundle out South Africa for 222 in 61.2 overs despite half-centuries from Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock.
The South Africans did make a comeback picking up three wickets in quick succession and will harbour hopes of restricting the visitors to a minimum. When stumps were called for on day one, Sri Lanka had lost three wickets for 60 still trailing the hosts by 162 runs. Lahiru Thirimanne was unbeaten on 25 and had nightwatchman Rajitha for company on 0.
Faf du Plessis’ decision to bat backfired massively as the hosts were reduced to 15/3 inside the first seven overs. Left-arm pacer Fernando, who took eight wickets in the first Test, started South Africa’s slide when he took two wickets in two balls in his third over. He bowled Dean Elgar for 6 with a carefully planned setup. A series of out-swingers was followed by one that ducked back into Elgar who ended up losing his off stump. Fernando then bowled Hashim Amla first ball with a full-length delivery that swung late into the right-hander.
Temba Bavuma survived the hat-trick delivery but was out without scoring in the very next over, run out backing up too far when Markram played Suranga Lakmal to mid-on where Rajitha picked up and broke the stumps at the bowler’s end with a direct hit.
Markram and du Plessis batted cautiously, resurrecting the innings with a 58-run stand for the fourth wicket before part-time pacer Karunaratne in his first over produced a perfect yorker out of nowhere to bowl the South African captain for 25. This was was just the second wicket for Karunaratne in 60 Tests but came at a crucial time for the visitors as South Africa went into lunch at 73/4.
The session after lunch started on a positive note for South Africa with Markram and de Kock going at a good rate. The wicket-keeper batsman continued his good run from the first Test first thumping Karunaratne for a four then slamming Fernando for another boundary in the next over before crashing Rajitha for three fours in four balls. Markram too switched gears and soon reached his sixth Test fifty with an inside edge to the on side.
Just when the hosts seemed to be recuperating courtesy a 57-run between the duo, Rajitha trapped Markram for 60. The pacer then struck twice in quick succession first removing debutant Wiaan Mulder for 9 and then getting rid of Keshav Maharaj for a duck as South Africa slipped to 157/7.
It could have been worse for South Africa with de Kock and Kagiso Rabada both surviving catching chances shortly before tea. De Kock went to his third half-century of the series off 51 balls and was dropped on 55 when de Silva could not hold onto a chance at gully.
De Kock struck a few fluent boundaries after the break but was clearly hampered by a hamstring injury for which he was tended to on multiple occasions. He eventually fell for 86, bowled by de Silva, but not before ensuring his side got past the 200-run mark. His innings was studded with 12 fours but South Africa could not last long once de Kock fell.
Rabada (22) fell to de Silva soon after while Fernando wrapped up the innings with the wicket of Duanne Olivier for 0. There were in all four ducks, seven single-digit scores and two fifties in the South African innings.
Karunaratne started off the Sri Lankan innings with a fortuitous four off the very first ball but along with Lahiru Thirimanne ensured there were no fatalities for the next 11 overs. South Africa finally drew blood in the 12th over courtesy their ace pacer Rabada who induced an outside edge of Karunaratne’s blade for 17.
Oshada Fernando, coming in at No.3, couldn’t last long chopping Olivier for a nine-ball duck. Kusal Mendis then struck three fours in his 15-ball 16 but was accounted for by Olivier in the fag end of the day.