SA ‘A’ bowlers on top form

2012-07-03 00:00

SOUTH Africa “A” skipper Faf du Plessis backed his bowlers going into day three of the first unofficial Test against Sri Lanka “A” at Kingsmead yesterday, declaring on the overnight total of 425/6 and asking the visitors to bat a second time, 255 runs behind.

As Rory Kleinveldt had done on the opening day with four scalps, it was fellow medium pacer Ryan McLaren who stepped up to the mark, getting the early breakthrough with three quick wickets to have the Lankans reeling at 33/3 — the match affectively over as a contest.

But opener Dilruwan Perera (40 not out) and Roshen Silva (35 not out) dug deep, seeing their team through to lunch at 100/3 in an unbroken partnership of 67. Imran Tahir was finally given the opportunity to turn his arm, having not had a bowl in the first innings, heading for lunch after five overs yielding 14 runs.

In between the odd full toss and short ball, he had the batsmen guessing, mixing his pace well, sending down the odd googly and keeping Tsami Tsolikile busy behind the stumps.

After lunch, with clouds gathering and the sun making the odd appearance, the Sri Lankans struggled, losing wickets regularly.

Another 16 runs were added before Perera’s vigil was ended, caught in the slips by Rilee Rossouw after chasing a wide delivery from Kleinveldt for 48, which included seven fours and a six.

He had added 83 with Silva, showing that with some application and thoughtful shot selection, decent batting was possible on a pitch that continued to firm under Durban’s winter sun.

Perera’s departure saw the South African bowlers gain the ascendency, a further three wickets tumbling for the addition of 46 runs, including the unnecessary run out of Silva, which saw him and Angelo Perera at the same end after Silva attempted a third run having thumped the ball through the covers.

Silva had reached a well played 50 from 80 balls with nine fours.

McLaren bagged his fourth wicket when Angelo Perera was sent back to the change room for 12, caught by Tsolikile. Hero of the Sri Lankan first innings, Kosala Kulasekara, who hit a half century, failed second time around, bowled by Tahir for 15.

At 186/7, it was a case of whether the Sri Lankans would make it through to tea and indeed, make South Africa bat again. They made it to tea, limping to 223/8, still 32 behind, Tahir claiming his second wicket, bowling Dhammika Prasad for 27.

As the shadows lengthened, Sri Lanka’s challenge failed. McLaren added Sachithra Serasinghe to his list of victims, having him caught at slip by Du Plessis for 45 to complete a workmanlike five-wicket haul (5/60).

Sri Lankan tailenders Malinda Pushpakumara and Kanishka Alvitigala swung lustily in an attempt to clear the deficit but, with eight runs needed to make South Africa bat, Pushpakumara gave Tahir his third wicket, caught by McLaren for eight to close the innings at 247, giving Du Plessis and his men victory by an innings and eight runs.

With the match ending a day early, the Sri Lankans should relish the opportunity of extra time to prepare for the second encounter against SA “A”, another four-day “Test” at the same venue, starting on Friday.

For Du Plessis and his charges, it’s full steam ahead and continuation of the good work, thereby giving Andrew Hudson and his selectors food for thought as the international cricket season looms.

SCORES IN BRIEF

Sri Lanka A 170 and 247

SA A 425/6 (dec)

SA A won by an innings and eight runs

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