Sri Lanka bounced back from a largely makeshift second string scenario through injury to stop a menacing looking South Africa’s seemingly unassailable 148 for 1 overnight charge, reducing them to 302 on a concentrated bowling effort fronted by Dushmantha Chameera and Dasun Shanaka leading to a 5-wicket haul by paceman Vishwa Fernando that was supplemented by a timely fighting unbeaten 91 by skipper Dimuth Karunaratne in a Sri Lankan second innings total of 150 for 4 wickets to lead by 5 on the second day of the second Test match at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg on Monday. It left the Lankan captain 9 short of what would be his maiden Test century on South African soil, and the 10th in his career.
In a 116-ball innings of tremendous display of grit and determination, Karunaratne rode out a bad patch of low scores carrying the fight to the South Africans scripted by 16 classic boundaries after South Africa’s run march had been curtailed with Chameera removing Dean Elgar for 127 caught by Thirimanne with the total on 218 for Dasun Shanaka to get rid of van der Dussen for 60 caught behind by Niroshan Dickwella followed by the prize wicket of first test centurion Faf du Plessis for 8 as the Sri Lankans claimed 3 wickets in the space of 17 runs. Then Vishwa Fernando accounted for the next four wickets for a 5-wicket haul for 101 runs. It was a commendable recouping of the Lankan pace attack with Dushmantha Chameera sparking it by breaking the 184-run second wicket partnership between the overnight pair of Elgar and Dussen that had threatened fireworks. Elgar’s mammoth 163-ball knock contained 22 boundaries while van der Dussen’s 67 off 127 balls was filled with 12 boundaries. That from that point the Lankans did a good containing job was reflected by the next best score not exceeding the 19 by Temba Bavuma.
Sri Lanka’s second innings started as disastrously with Kusal Janith Perera bowled for 1 by Ngidi off the second ball of the second over, but full marks to Lahiru Thirimanne, who did a praiseworthy job in the pivotal No.3 slot scoring a stubborn 31 off 57 balls comprising 7 boundaries in lending his captain support in fronting a 85-run second wicket partnership off 21.4 overs. But with the fall of Thirimanne’s wicket to a caught behind off Ngidi, the good work was undone by the dismissal of Kusal Mendis for his third successive duck in three innings as Sri Lanka slipped to 92 for 3 and 109 for 4 by the 27th over with debutant Minod Bhanuka falling for 1 to Nortje offering a catch to Maharaj. Mendis lasted just one ball and his continued failure must certainly be a cause for concern to the Sri Lankan selectors at the terrible let down while it was a disappointing debut for Bhanuka who made just 5 in the first innings .
However, Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella negotiated the next 12 overs in an unfinished fifth wicket partnership of 41 runs with the latter unbeaten on 18 off 47 having hit 2 boundaries and Sri Lanka’s hopes of making a match of it largely depending on the duo with three more testing days ahead.
SRI LANKA 157 (40.3 Overs) RR: 3.89
(Kusal Janith Perera 67, Lahiru Thirimanne 17, Wanindu Hasaranga 29, Dushmantha Chameera 22, Anrich Nortje 6/56, Wiaam Mulder 3/25)
And 150/4 (39 Overs) RR: 3.84
(Dimuth Karunaratne n.o. 91, Lahiru Thirimanne 31, Niroshan Dickwella n.o. 18, Lungi Ngidi 3/26, Anrich Nortje 1/41)
SOUTH AFRICA 148/1 O/N, 302 (75.4 Overs) RR: 4.00
(Dean Elgar 127, Rassie van der Dussen 67, Temba Bavuma 19, Lungdi Ngidi n.o. 14, Anrich Nortje 13, Quinton de Kock 10, Asitha Fernando 5/101, Dasun Shanaka 2/42, Asitha Fernando 2/61, Dushmantha Chameera 1/53)