Perera keeps Sri Lanka in the hunt

2011-12-16 11:25

Sri Lanka 180, South Africa 168/4 (GC Smith 61, JA Rudolph 44, NLTC Perera 2/63). South Africa trail by 12 runs with six wickets remaining.

Sri Lanka, aided by some accurate bowling, injudicious running and tigerish fielding, limited South Africa to 168/4 at lunch on the second day of the first Sunfoil Test today.

Resuming at 90/1, Dale Steyn, who along with Jacques Rudolph walked on to the field to a rapturous applause, failed to trouble the scorers before he was run out by Rangana Herath while attempting a quick single. While the South African batsmen stole quick singles, the fielders hit the stumps with an alarming regularity.

Chanaka Welegedara and Dilhara Fernando maintained a tight line outside offstump, forcing the left-handed Rudolph to play and miss regularly. Hashim Amla, who averages 90 at the ground, hit the first four of the day when he straight-drove Welegedara down the ground. His 33-ball 18 (3x4) was punctuated by sweet flicks and drives, but got tied down by Thisara Perera’s nagging offstump line.

Perera got his man when he coerced Amla to drive flat-footedly at a wide one, which was expertly caught by Angelo Mathews at third slip. Rudolph, who batted with a dislocated finger, showed no discomfort as he progressed sedately to a 140-ball 44, punctuated by clips off the hips and sumptuous cover drives. His stay though was terminated by the impressive Perera, who got one to seam away from Rudolph, forcing the southpaw to tickle one to Tharanga Paranavitana at first slip, missing a brave and deserved 50.

Jacques Kallis, who has yet to register a test 100 against Sri Lanka, looked to stamp his authority on proceedings, showing his intent with three fours of a Perera over, who looked like he was bowling one over too many. Just as Kallis looked like he was going to own the Sri Lankan bowlers, he ducked into a ball that was not short enough and needed medical attention. When he got up, the Sri Lankan pacemen mixed up their lengths impressively, keeping the woozy Kallis on his toes.

Kallis should have been back in the shed shortly before lunch, but wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva shelled a simple chance, using one hand to take the chance instead of using two.

With the pitch offering seam movement and a lot more bounce, South Africa will have to work hard for their runs while Sri Lanka will look to maintain their prelunch accuracy.

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