Sangakkara builds SL advantage
Dilhara Fernando and Muttiah Muralitharan scalped four wickets each as Sri Lanka shot out South Africa for a meagre 169 and then drove home the advantage, reaching 128 for 2 when bad light brought the first day to an early close at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo. There was little joy for South Africa - only a bustling 65 from AB de Villiers - as Sri Lanka were right on top.
South Africa did all they could to claw their way back into the game, after lasting just 50.2 overs in their innings. Dale Steyn hurried the batsmen, and prised out two early wickets, sending back Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga.
Jayasuriya was the first to go, nailed in front of the stumps by a fullish delivery. On 14 Tharanga joined him in the dressing-room, when he tried to work a leg-side delivery away and ended up gloving the ball to the keeper. Just for a brief moment South Africa entertained hopes of staying in the game, but Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene ensured that their joy was short lived.
One probing over where Sangakkara was first dropped and then bowled off a no-ball gave Sri Lanka the jolt they needed. Sangakkara and Jayawardene then buckled down and batted beautifully, each motoring to half-centuries as the partnership for the third wicket burgeoned to an unbeaten 114. Sri Lanka were just 41 behind in the first innings when play was called off early, with 13 overs lost in the day. Sangakkara and Jayawardene had done well, but it was the Sri Lankan bowlers who did the damage in the first half of the day.
With a longish batting line-up at his disposal Ashwell Prince chose to bat first on a good-looking pitch but it all began to go wrong shortly after the opening spell from Lasith Malinga and Farveez Maharoof. Fernando, coming on to bowl first change, struck two crucial blows, sending back both openers before 50 runs were on the board.
Andrew Hall, the makeshift opener, looked to come forward to a fullish delivery from Fernando, and the ball nipped in just enough off the pitch to take the inside edge and ricochet onto the stumps. Hall had contributed 17 in the 32-run first wicket partnership.
Gibbs, not quite his usual aggressive self, misread the length of a Fernando delivery and drove with a sizeable gap between bat and pad and that allowed the ball to sneak through and disturb the stumps. South Africa were 45 for 2 and just for a moment Prince would have wondered if he did the right thing in choosing to bat.
Hashim Amla played a couple of pleasing cover-drives, and in the company of Jacques Rudolph, looked to consolidate after a shaky start. But where Fernando left off Maharoof took over. Rudolph played an airy drive immediately after lunch and feathered an edge to Prasanna Jayawardene behind the stumps.
Prince then provided an action replay for those who might have lingered at the lunch and missed the Rudolph dismissal. He chased a ball that was angling away from him and could only manage an edge, having scored one run.
Muralitharan, who had tied the South African batsmen up in knots and did not concede a run in his first four overs, then came to the party, as Amla came down the pitch and was beaten all ends up. Jayawardene fumbled the ball slightly but still had enough time to whip the bails off. Mark Boucher attempted a sweep and only top-edged to Jayasuriya at short fine leg. Nicky Boje, who can bat a bit, failed to pick a doosra and was adjudged lbw although the ball struck the pad quite high up. At 128 for 6 South Africa were heading for a disastrously low total.
de Villiers was the one batsman to resist, and his method was efficient. He played without hesitation, committing himself to the front or back foot. He also ensured that he played late, batting with supple hands to place the ball into gaps. But there was no-one to keep him company.
Fernando came back for a second telling spell, with the ball reversing just a touch, and trapped Andre Nel in front of the stumps with a full delivery. Off the very next ball Steyn shouldered arms and lost his off stump.
de Villiers managed 65 before an attempted heave off Murali ended in the hands of Chamara Kapugedera in the deep. At the stroke of tea South Africa folded, for just 169, in two balls more than 50 overs, and left Sri Lanka in total control. Luckily for Sri Lanka, their batsmen did not make the same mistakes as the South Africans.
How they were out
Andrew Hall b Fernando 17 (32 for 1)
Inside edged a ball that came in off the pitch back onto his stumps
Herschelle Gibbs b Fernando 19 (45 for 2)
Bowled through the gate driving loosely
Jacques Rudolph c Jayawardene b Maharoof 29 (78 for 3)
Followed a ball angling away and feathered an edge
Ashwell Prince c Jayawardene b Maharoof 1 (80 for 4)
Identical dismissal to Rudolph
Hashim Amla st Jayawardene b Muralitharan 19 (112 for 5)
Came down the pitch and beaten in the air and off the pitch
Mark Boucher c Jayasuriya b Muralitharan 4 (128 for 6)
Top edged a sweep to short fine-leg
Nicky Boje lbw b Muralitharan 5 (148 for 7)
Misread a doosra
Andre Nel lbw b Fernando 0 (151 for 8)
Plumb in front missing a full, straight ball
Dale Steyn b Fernando 0 (151 for 9)
Shouldered arms to a ball on off stump
AB de Villiers c Kapugedera b Muralitharan 65 (169 for 10)
Holed out to the fielder in the deep
Sanath Jayasuriya lbw b Steyn 4 (6 for 1)
Was late on a full, quick delivery
Upul Tharanga c Boucher b Steyn 7 (14 for 2)
Gloved a ball going down leg trying to pull
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo