Colombo - Hashim Amly stood almost man alone to give the Castle Lager Proteas a
chance of saving the second Test match against Sri Lanka at the
Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo, on Saturday and of winning the series.
As it happened: SL v SA, Day 3
The Proteas captain scored his first century against Sri Lanka and the 22nd of his Test career to finish on 139 not out (382 balls, 12 fours) after more than eight hours at the crease to enable South Africa to finish on 282 in their first innings for an overall deficit of 139 runs.
Amla is now alone in third place among South African Test centurions, having gone past Gary Kirsten’s 21 and has now only Graeme Smiith (27) and Jacques Kallis (45) ahead of him.
He is now joint 27th on the all-time list and is also the first South African captain to score a Test century in Sri Lanka.
Amla’s previous highest score against Sri Lanka was only 54 and he has now scored Test centuries against all of South Africa’s opponents with the exception of West Indies, against whom he has only played six Test matches and Zimbabwe against whom he has never played.
It is a continuation of his excellent form on the sub-continent which has always been one of his favourite hunting grounds.
Amla’s effort would not have been possible without the support of the lower-order who collectively faced 133 balls and made sure that Sri Lanka were not in a position to enforce the follow on and only had the chance to bat in the last 20 minutes.
The pitch has turned into a landmine for left-handers with the four South African left-handers only managing to score four runs between them.
It was undoubtedly for that reason that Imran Tahir was promoted to bat ahead of Morne Morkel.
The star of the Sri Lankan attack was Dilruhan Perera (5/69) who has now taken 13 wickets in the series.
His deliveries that accounted for AB de Villiers and Vernon Philander were right out of the top drawer.
He and Rangana Herath have now bowled more than 100 overs each in the series and this may be a factor when the Proteas attempt to bat through the last day.