South Africa’s new-ball bowlers blew away the Sri Lankan top-order to restore some of the Proteas’ Christmas cheer after their first innings had collapsed to 286 all out on the second morning, reducing the tourists to 22 for three before their lower-order hung around to prevent total obliteration.
Dimuth Karunaratne (5), Kusal Perera (7) and Kusal Mendis (0) should be ashamed by their loose strokeplay against the new ball, while Rangana Herath was trapped lbw for 24 trying to reverse-sweep spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Opener Kaushal Silva battled hard for 108 minutes in scoring 16 before Philander trapped him lbw, and Angelo Mathews (39) and Dinesh Chandimal (28) also fought hard, while Dhananjaya de Silva had stuck to his task well in reaching the end of play, which came with 22 overs still to be bowled due to bad light, on 43 not out. Dushmantha Chameera was with him on seven not out.
“The pitch asked us to be patient, even though there was a lot in it, draw the batsmen across, going for caught behind more than anything. If you string some good overs together then you can get a few wickets and it was always tough scoring runs. The pitch gave me a bit to work with and I’m in a good space after Christmas,” Philander said.
South Africa had suffered their own embarrassing collapse yesterday morning as they lost their last four wickets for 19 runs in 8.5 overs.
Philander was dropped trying to hook Nuwan Pradeep, but then dismissed for 13 playing the same stroke in the paceman’s next over, while Maharaj and Abbott both made ducks, the latter run out after some awful running between the wickets by Quinton de Kock.
The wicketkeeper/batsman was the last man out, yorked by Pradeep for 37.
Suranga Lakmal, playing his 32nd Test, completed his maiden five-wicket haul when he had Maharaj caught behind by wicketkeeper Chandimal.
“Any lead of 80 plus will stand us in good stead going into the third innings, but there’s still a lot of cricket to be played. There are a few divots in the pitch and it has sped up a bit, so the hard new ball is going to be key and there’s still a bit of nip out there,” Philander added.