Sri Lanka shaky at lunch

2011-12-15 12:49

Sri Lanka: 76/3 in 26 overs (Paranavitana 32, Jayawardene 23*, Philander 2/30, Steyn 1/12).

Greeted by a pitch that looked more like the outfield, Sri Lanka battled their way to 76/3 at lunch on Day 1 of the first Sunfoil test today.

Predictably sent in to bat by Proteas captain Graeme Smith, the diametrically opposite openers, the grafter Tharanga Paranavitana and the dasher Tillakaratne Dilshan started cautiously against the seaming ball.

While the pitch was liberally grassed, it looked a touch on the slow side, but it should quicken up as the game progresses.

The usually quick-scoring Dilshan was tied down by some accurate stuff from Dale Steyn and the Sri Lankan soon became Steyn’s 250th test victim when he spooned a simple catch to Vernon Philander at midwicket.

His predecessor, Kumar Sangakarra, Sri Lanka’s form batsman, lasted only three balls for his single before he sparred a seaming delivery from Philander to Jacques Kallis at second slip.

At 12/2, it looked like the Sri Lankan innings could subside further into the mire, but the lanky Paranavitana, who gutsed it out for 104 minutes for his 32, handled the Proteas bowling like a toddler learning how to walk.

The southpaw had his helmet manufacturer to thank when he ducked into Morne Morkel’s first ball bouncer.

He also copped another body blow and the three-count was nearly completed when his lazy waft dropped just in front of the slip cordon.

Mahela Jayawardene, who needs a big score, also looked troubled against the short of a length bowling, but his excellent leaving judgment outside offstump was mixed with plays and misses in the corridor of uncertainty.

In the face of the bowling, Jayawardene and Paranavitana chipped and chivvied their way to a 54-run partnership before the latter, who reached 1 500 test runs, had his offstump knocked back by a Philander delivery that snaked through bat and pad.
 
Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera ensured there would be no further setbacks.

Philander continued his excellent start to his test career with 2/30 in nine overs and was ably supported by Steyn, who returned figures of 1/12 in six overs.

Morkel, who generated steep bounce and seam movement from the West Lane end, was unlucky not to get a wicket.

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