SA inch ahead at tea

2011-12-16 14:43

SL 180, SA 257/5(GC Smith 61, AB de Villiers 56*, NLTC Perera 2/80). South Africa lead by 77 runs with five wickets remaining.

It would be difficult to say who took the honours at the end of the afternoon session on Day 2 of the first Sunfoil Test as the host went to tea at 257/5, 77 runs ahead.

The cricket was attritional; Sri Lanka knowing that every run conceded would lengthen their odds of winning their first test on South African soil. Sri Lanka has made the hosts work hard for their runs, conceding only 89 runs in the session.

The bowlers played their part, but the fielding, which served them so well in the first session, let them down, with wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva being the main culprit.

Sri Lanka continued where they left off, keeping a tight line outside offstump.

Chanaka Welegedara, who toiled for his 1/67, was rewarded for his efforts with the wicket of Jacques Kallis, who prodded to Angelo Mathews at third slip.

Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan had started with spin from both ends in what looked like a bizarre move, considering how Dilhara Fernando had roughed up Kallis, but whatever thoughts lay behind that move, it certainly worked.

Ashwell Prince, who like Kallis, has yet to score a 100 against Sri Lanka, was very scratchy, with Fernando, who found an extra yard of pace, constantly testing him outside offstump.

Prince lived a bit of a charmed life when a miscued drive dropped short of gully and was even luckier when keeper Silva shelled a simple chance off Rangana Herath.

AB de Villiers, South Africa’s best player of spin, handled Herath and the part-time offerings of Dilshan with silky foot movement and was at ease with the pace bowlers.

De Villiers, who seems to enjoy playing at his home ground, reached his 30th test half-century off 92 balls (6x4) with a glided four through the vacant gully region while sharing in an unbroken 84-run partnership.

Sri Lanka will need to maintain the pressure they have managed to exert throughout the day for one wicket could open up South Africa’s vulnerable lower order with a new ball while the hosts will look to their settled batsmen to put the game beyond Sri Lanka’s reach.

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