The South African batsmen scored free against an exhausted Sri Lankan bowling strike as the host nation fought back on Sunday on the second day of the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion. South Africa was 317 for four at the end in response to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 396. Dean Elgar (95) and Aiden Markram (68) put 141 for the first wicket, while former captain Faf du Plessis (55 not out) ) and Temba Bavuma (41 not out) added an unbeaten 97 for the fifth wicket, as the hosts scored better than four runs and over.
Sri Lanka entered the game without leading fast bowler Suranga Lakmal due to a hamstring load and took a big hit when opening bowler Kasun Rajitha limped off the field with what appeared to be a groin injury after bowling a ball in his third over.
Sri Lanka already had no batsman Dhananjaya de Silva, who was banned from the rest of the series after sustaining a second degree tear in his left thigh that forced him to retire in pain after scoring 79 on Saturday.
Since De Silva was also a capable off-spin bowler, the tourists were reduced to a four-man attack, including Dasun Shanaka, bowling at a leisurely average pace, and debutante leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
As was the case with the inexperienced South African bowlers, the Sri Lankans struggled to find consistency and the batsmen took advantage of some loose bowling, hitting a total of 48 boundaries in 72 overs.
Sri Lanka fought back briefly when Rassie van der Dussen and Elgar fell in consecutive overs to make the total of 200 for three, while South African captain Quinton de Kock fell four overs later after a quick 18.
Previously, Shanaka failed to hit an aggressive 66 before South African new cap Lutho Sipamla completed the Sri Lankan innings by taking three wickets in 11 balls.
Shanaka, 29, played in his first Test in over three years, and with an earlier high score of 17 in three appearances, he hit three fours and five sixes in his 87-ball innings.
Shanaka took advantage of some loose bowling, most notably fast bowler Anrich Nortje, who got 28 runs in four overs and two bowling bouncers who sailed four byes over the head of wicketkeeper De Kock. Shanaka reached his fifty with a pull for six from Nortje and two balls later hit Nortje for another six over the third man.
Rajitha offered stoic support to Shanaka as the pair took their overnight partnership to 67 before a double bowling change resulted in the remaining wickets falling quickly.
Sipamla, who got 38 points in his first five overs on Saturday, finished four for 76 from 16 overs.
Sri Lanka’s total far exceeded the previous highest level in a Test innings in South Africa, 342 at Cape Town in 2011/12.
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