On a frenetic Day 2 of the second and final Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth that saw as many as 18 wickets falling, Sri Lanka edged ahead after South Africa collapsed in a heap to lose their last seven wickets for just 38 runs.
After conceding a lead of 68 runs, the Sri Lankan bowlers led by their ace pacer Suranga Lakmal ran riot to bundle the hosts for just 128. Needing 196 runs to win, Sri Lanka then lost their openers in the chase but made a substantial surge towards their dream of inflicting a 2-0 whitewash on the Proteas. By the time stumps were called for, the visitors had moved to 60/2 after 16 overs needing a further 137 runs for a win with Kusal Mendis unbeaten on 10 and Oshada Fernando 17*.
Resuming on 60/3, Sri Lanka lost overnight batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne and nightwatchman Kasun Rajitha in the first four overs of the morning. While Thirimanne fell tamely looping a catch back to Duanne Olivier for 29, Rajitha (1) was castled by a Kagiso Rabada beauty that swung late to hit the off pole.
With the surface aiding plenty of seam and movement the Sri Lankan batsmen decided to go for their shots in a bid to reduce the deficit as much as possible. Kusal Perera, the hero of Sri Lanka’s surprise win in the first Test in Durban, thrashed two fours and a six over extra cover in one over from Rabada before being caught behind in the fast bowler’s next over. He made 20 off 15 balls as the visitors slipped to 97/6.
Niroshan Dickwella coming in at No.8 was audacious in his shot-making. He smashed six fours and six in an entertaining 36-ball 42 and was ably supported by Dhananjaya de Silva who struck four fours in making 19 off 24. Sri Lanka eventually folded for 154. Lasith Embuldeniya did not bat having undergone surgery on Thursday after suffering a badly dislocated left thumb in trying to take a return catch.
Rabada was easily the pick of the South African bowlers. He was lethal as ever and was rewarded with impressive returns of 4/38 in 12.4 overs. Olivier too chipped in with three wickets. The first session saw the hosts scoring 94 runs in 17.4 but they lost six wickets in 17.4 overs.
South Africa too did not have the best of starts as they lost opener Dean Elgar cheaply for the third time in the series to Vishwa Fernando before lunch.
The hosts though got into an excellent groove post the break with Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram collecting boundaries at will. Even the fall of Markam’s wicket for 18 courtesy a brilliant catch at square leg by Fernando did not stem the flow of runs.
Amla and Temba Bavuma and later Faf du Plessis did really well to take their side to 90/3. However, just when it seemed the hosts would take a sizeable lead an unprecedented collapse saw them lose their last seven wickets for a mere 38 runs with Lakmal doing the bulk of the damage.
The slide started with the wicket of Amla who edged de Silva straight to first slip where Mendis completed a good catch. Sri Lanka’s nemesis Quinton de Kock (1) for once fell cheaply when Lakmal induced a leading edge of his blade to pouch a simple return catch.
Debutant Wiaan Mulder came and went for 5 edging de Silva to Mendis at first slip before Maharaj was undone by a peach of an in-swinger from Lakmal that caught him plumb in front of the stumps for 6.
Rabada and Steyn bagged ducks falling to Lakmal and de Silva respectively as the hosts slipped to 116/9.
Du Plessis tried his best to accumulate some runs reaching his half-century off 70 deliveries which included even fours but the innings soon ended when Lakmal fittingly got the last man Olivier lbw for 6.
Sri Lanka needed just four bowlers to rout South Africa with Lakmal leading the way returning 4/39 in 16.3 overs. De Silva once again proved his worth as he chipped with three wickets.
Thirimanne and Dimuth Karunaratne then gave their side a good start adding 32 runs for the opening wicket but both fell in successive overs much to the delight of the hosts. Rabada, who was impressive all day got rid of Thirimanne for 19 while Karunaratne fell just five balls later in a similar fashion to Olivier.