Sri Lanka have a lot to worry about

2011-12-16 09:06

Sri Lanka 180 (AD Mathews 38, VD Philander 5/53), South Africa 90/1 (GC Smith 61, CRD Fernando 1/21). South Africa are 90 runs behind.

If the Sri Lankan selectors were worried about the bowling, their abject batting performance would have increased the furrows in their brows as the hosts closed Day 1 of the first Sunfoil test.

While the pitch blended in with the outfield with its dark shade of green, it was not to blame.

Sri Lanka’s bowling armoury – which consists of Chanaka Welegedera, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Fernando and Angelo Mathews – did not seem to trouble the openers much, except for a few occasions where Jacques Rudolph survived three leg before appeals.

If the pitch quickens up, expect South Africa to pile on the runs. While their progress was sedate, they showed a willingness to knuckle down and hit the shine off the ball. Most importantly, they were patient, a virtue that was sorely missed in the series against Australia.

Sri Lanka recovered from the early losses of Dilshan and Sangakkara with a 54-run stand between Tharanga Paranavitana and Mahela Jayawardene. Paranavitana looked ungainly against the short ball, with one testing his helmet. Paranavitana was cleaned up by Vernon Philander and was soon followed into the shed by Jayawardene, who flashed a wide one to slip.

Thilan Samaraweera and Angelo Mathews attempted to mount a recovery of sorts with a 65-run stand that was speckled with boundaries. Samaraweera was lucky to get a reprieve when he was caught off a Morne Morkel no ball. The partnership threatened to derail the Proteas’ plans, but when Philander nipped two wickets in two balls, the back of the Sri Lankan effort had been broken.

Sri Lanka will aim to remove night watchman Dale Steyn early, but the hosts, along with their tall but prone to collapsing line-up, will be eager to pile on the runs. The track might not be taking a lot of turn, but Rangana Herath could have a key role in stemming the flow of runs, provided the seamers stick to their end of the bargain.

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