South Africa’s swift balance wresting response of 317 for 4 wickets making light of Sri Lanka’s 396, just 79 short of clearing the deficit on the back of a 141-run first wicket partnership between Dean Elgar who made 95 laced with 16 boundaries and Aiden Markram 68 (14×4) on the second day at Centurion was insulating in the new look host team’s quest to avenge a humiliating 2-nil series defeat in their own backyard in December 2019-January 2020.
In that ominous thrust, the Protea batting machinery proceeded to grind to the dust Sri Lanka’s final assault, courtesy a gem of a knock of an unbeaten 66 off 87 by Dasun Shanaka in a virtual lone tail-end rearguard action that yielded 41 of the 56 runs on day two of the Lankan total with his overnight partner Kasun Rajitha adding 5 with Vishwa Fernando and Lahiru Kumara cleaned up for ducks. Shanaka’s bat flew in a 5-sixes flurry coupled with three boundaries.
As the Protea top order clicked with No.4 Faf du Plessis finishing on an 81-ball undefeated 55 (9×4), it was not the ideal platform Dimuth Karunaratne’s charges had been looking at to capitalising on what was quite a decent total as the Sri Lankan bowling attack wilted having suffered the double blows of losing the services of their quality spinner Dhananjaya de Silva, ruled out of any further part in the series from a torn thigh injury, and frontline pace bowler Kasun Rajitha who limped off unable to complete his third over from an apparent groin injury. The unfinished 97-run fifth wicket alliance between Du Plessis and Temba Bavuma who was on 49 off 79 (4×4) as the hosts hit the speed gear of over 4 an over was the threateningly ominous final scripting to the second day’s play that powered Quintin de Kock’s men to the box seat of control. Given the lop sided performance by the Lankan bowlers, it would require a lion hearted effort from them to stop the South Africans march to taking a stranglehold of the match on the third day with six wickets intact. Each of the bowlers – Vishwa Fernando, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Lahiru Kumara took a wicket each with Hasaranga doing a bulk of the bowling. It would demand a spirited comeback from the Lankans to wrest back the control on the Centurian pitch that has favoured batsmen.
SRI LANKA 340/6 O/N, 396 All out (96 Overs) RR: 4.12
(Dinesh Chandimal 85, Dhananjaya de Silva 79 retired hurt, Dasun Shanaka n.o. 66, Niroshan Dickwella 49, Lutho Sipamla 4/76, Wiaam Mulder 3/69)
SOUTH AFRICA 317/4 (72 Overs) RR: 4.40
(Dean Elgar 95, Aiden Markram 68, Faf du Plessis n.o. 55, Temba Bavuma n.o. 41, Quinton de Kock 18, Rassie van der Dussen 15, Dasun Shanaka 1/56, Vishwa Fernando 1/59, Lahiru Kumara 1/73, Wanindu Hasaranga 1/99 )