Paranavitana ton lifts Sri Lankan spirits
Sri Lankans 207 for 3 (Paranavitana 100, Dilshan 74) drew with South African Invitation XI 357 (Elgar 78, Fernando 4-76)
Sri Lanka's top three were able to spend much-needed time in the middle on the third day of their tour match against the South African Invitational XI. Tharanga Paranavitana was dropped twice on his way to a century before retiring, Tillakaratne Dilshan scored an aggressive, almost run-a-ball 74 while Mahela Jayawardene battled for his 26.
Kumar Sangakkara was moved down the order after he split the webbing between fingers on his right hand while fielding on Saturday. He did not bat but is expected to recover in the next day or two and team manager Anura Tennekoon said the injury was "not serious."
The home attack had less success than Sri Lanka's did the previous day, as they sent down a selection of poor deliveries which were pounced on by a determined opening pair. Dilshan was typically forceful from the start, when he was off the mark with a back-foot drive through the covers, until the end when he pulled a short ball into the hands of David Wiese at fine leg.
He acted as a perfect foil for Paranavitana, who was more circumspect in his approach upfront but should have been out on 20 when Dean Elgar fluffed a catch at second slip. The chance came off the bowling of Hardus Viljoen during a torrid first spell which cost 56 runs in seven overs. Viljoen is no stranger to Willowmoore Park, having played his amateur cricket for Easterns alongside Marchant de Lange who is in South Africa's Test squad, but like the Sri Lankans the day before he did not adjust his lengths well enough against an international line-up.
Dilshan raced to a half-century before lunch and looked well placed to keep going but the bowlers emerged from the interval with an improved effort. Wiese and Paul Harris kept runs to a minimum and Dilshan was frustrated enough by the third over after the resumption to play a loose shot.
Paranavitana took over from where Dilshan left off and showed greater intent as his innings went on while Jayawardene played himself in. Jayawardene scratched around against a more disciplined attack but showed moments of good touch such as the six he scored off Harris, hitting the left-arm spinner back over his head. On the whole, though, the former captain did not look comfortable and was caught by Rille Rossouw at square leg from a pull shot.
Paranavitana would have departed soon afterwards but was given a second life when he was dropped on 88 by the usually safe Farhaan Berhardien at point. He went on to bring up his century with a flick on the leg side and retired immediately afterwards, allowing Angelo Mathews to join Thilan Samraweera to get time in the middle.
However, the partnership faced just 35 balls with neither batsman appearing to have familiarised themselves with conditions before the weather intervened again. Mathews was dropped at first slip by Harris when he edged Pumelela Matskihwe, who gave a respectable account of himself, then bad light intervened 20 minutes before tea. The players returned for four minutes and six balls before conditions became too gloomy leaving Sri Lanka fairly satisfied with the second day of their warm-up outing.
The day had started in promising fashion when the Sri Lankan bowlers needed just 36 minutes to end the Invitation XI's first innings. Dihara Fernando managed a straighter line than he had on the first day and was rewarded with two wickets as he bowled both Farhaan Berhardien (52) and Wiese (12). Sandwiched between those dismissals was the wicket of Viljoen, who was trapped lbw by Rangana Herath. Harris was the last man out, attempting a cut off Ajantha Mendis and mistiming it to backward point.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent