Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, Colombo, 2nd day August 12, 2004

Sangakkara's superb 232 puts Sri Lanka on top

South Africa 116 for 3 (van Jaarsveld 51) trail Sri Lanka 470(Sangakkara 232, Jayawardene 82, Pollock 4-81) by 354 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Kumar Sangakkara: a third double-century to put Sri Lanka in charge © AFP

Kumar Sangakkara's marathon 232, the third double-century of his career and the fourth-highest score against South Africa, handed Sri Lanka control of the second Test in Colombo. An early strike from Chaminda Vaas, and a double-wicket maiden from Sanath Jayasuriya just before the close, then tightened their grip on the game as South Africa closed on 116 for 3.

Herschelle Gibbs had worked feverishly hard to overcome his ankle injury, but he came into the second Test with no match practice for many months - hardly ideal preparation for the deciding match of a series. Vaas allowed him no time to shake off the early-season rustiness with a peach of an inswinger first ball that would have knocked back middle stump (1 for 1).

Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka's new round-armed pace sensation, or "pocket rocket" as he is described by his coach, bowled a remarkable first over that included five wicket-taking outswingers and one rank full-toss to leave Martin van Jaarsveld utterly perplexed. But the shock value of his weird action wore off soon and van Jaarsveld and Graeme Smith settled in.

Their next moment of alarm came when Thilan Samaraweera claimed a catch off van Jaarsveld, on 13, at slip off Rangana Herath. But the TV replays indicated that the ball may have brushed the turf, and the batsman was given the benefit of the doubt. Thereafter South Africa, with Muttiah Muralitharan safely out of the way, ticked along smoothly.

But just when the day appeared to be drifting towards a quiet end, Jayasuriya's magic arm struck twice in his first over. First, van Jaarsveld (51) mistimed a drive to cover moments after reaching his third Test fifty, and then Nicky Boje, the nightwatchman, was bowled through the gate (109 for 3).

Smith, who finished on 49 not out, and Jacques Kallis sweated their way through the last five overs, leaving South Africa with a fight on their hands to reach the follow-on target of 271 on the third day - although, in such draining conditions, Sri Lanka would probably bank the lead and bat again.

Earlier, South Africa's pace bowlers, led by Shaun Pollock, dragged their team back into the match by bowling out Sri Lanka for 470. Samaraweera's top-edged hook six minutes before lunch proved to be the trigger for a rush of wickets. Five wickets tumbled for 26 as Sri Lanka, who had looked set for a mountainous total, slumped from 392 for 4 to 437 for 9.

When Sangakkara finally succumbed to tiredness after nine hours of concentration and focus, flashing at a wide delivery and edging to slip, Pollock celebrated with a mixture of joy and relief: Kallis had given Sangakkara a letoff at slip on 57 off him, and Pollock had missed a difficult one-handed return catch off his own bowling this morning when Sangakkara had reached 177.

Shaun Pollock pulled things back for South Africa and helped them keep the total below 500 © AFP

But Pollock, by far the best of the South African bowlers in this series, was rewarded for all his hard work with excellent final figures of 4 for 81 from 30 overs on a placid pitch. If his colleagues - especially Makhaya Ntini and Nantie Hayward - had shown the same skill and control, South Africa would not have conceded the intiative again.

It was Pollock who found the edge of Tillakaratne Dilshan's bat to break through after lunch (399 for 6), and Hayward who sent Romesh Kaluwitharana packing after a nick from a swivel-pull was safely pouched by Mark Boucher (416 for 7). Ntini tidied up his figures a touch as Rangana Herath chopped one onto his stumps (437 for 9).

But it wasn't all plain sailing for South Africa, on another afternoon of sweltering 39-degree heat, as Upul Chandana cobbled together 40 and frustrated them, putting on 33 for the last wicket with Malinga. Chandana flew out of the blocks with a flurry of meaty boundaries, before South Africa dropped the field back and reduced the scoring to a crawl. Finally, though, with the innings meandering to a tedious standstill, he tried to launch Boje into downtown Colombo and was stumped: Sri Lanka finished on 470.

In the morning, after Vaas, the nightwatchman, had fallen to the second new ball for 10, Sangakkara batted briskly, with no hint of nerves as he cruised through the 190s. But that was hardly surprising because he has now doubled up all of his last three Test centuries - the last two were his 230 against Pakistan in 2001-02 and 270 against Zimbabwe this May.

It was a fine innings, during which he curbed a natural instinct for attack as South Africa plugged the gaps and tried to wear down his patience. He interspersed solid defence with his full repertoire of stylish strokes, scoring an equal percentage of his runs on either side of the wicket and finishing with 31 fours and one swept six. It was his second-highest score, and only Don Bradman (299 at Adelaide in 1931-32), Eddie Paynter (243 at Durban in 1938-39) and Mahela Jayawardene (237 at Galle last week) have made higher scores against South Africa.

Off the pitch, it was announced that Muralitharan, who pulled out yesterday morning, would fly to Australia tonight for surgery. He was already ruled out of the five-match one-day series that follows this Test. However, until his shoulder is opened up, it is not clear quite how long he will be out of action.