South Africa v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Durban, 3rd day December 28, 2011

Sangakkara ton keeps Sri Lanka in charge

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Sri Lanka 338 and 256 for 7 (Sangakkara 108, Chandimal 54) lead South Africa 168 by 426 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sri Lanka came into this match facing the prospect of their first win-less year in Tests since 1997, and after the hammering in Centurion few predicted anything other than a straightforward win for South Africa in Durban. Three days into the game though, they are firmly on course for their first Test win in 16 attempts, and their first since the retirement of their greatest match-winner, Muttiah Muralitharan.

Kumar Sangakkara made his first important contribution of the series, while Thilan Samaraweera and Dinesh Chandimal made their second each of the game to steer Sri Lanka's lead towards match-winning proportions. Sangakkara's first century in South Africa left the home side needing to pull off a world record chase to end their Durban jinx.

Sangakkara, the world's No. 1 Test batsman, came into this innings with scores of 0, 1 and 2 in the series, and could have been dismissed on 3 in the day's first over. After overnight rain delayed the start of play by an hour, South Africa's quick bowlers were on top of their game in the morning. Morne Morkel sent an early warning, getting the first ball to zip past Sangakkara's outside edge. Three deliveries later he induced a nick only to see Mark Boucher's late dive distract Graeme Smith from pouching a catch at slip.

There are plenty of theories about what helps fast bowlers at Kingsmead. The Green Mamba is a usual suspect, but today the talk was about the change in wind direction that would help the ball jag around. It was overcast in Durban as well, but there was still no dramatic swing or seam for the South Africa fast bowlers.

That didn't stop them from probing away before lunch. Tharanga Paranavitana had a torrid time, regularly beaten outside off and struck on the back by a short ball. Eight of his nine runs came through not entirely assured glides past gully, before his innings ended with an edge to fourth slip.

When Mahela Jayawardene was dismissed soon after - padding up to a Marchant de Lange incutter which would have gone on to hit off stump - South Africa were sensing a way back into the game despite conceding a 170-run first-innings lead.

Sangakkara and Samaraweera made sure Sri Lanka remained firmly in charge, helped by a lacklustre bowling effort after lunch. Sangakkara had shown signs of his increasing confidence even before the break - whipping a gift from Jacques Kallis on the leg stump for four before upper cutting de Lange for another boundary - and he continued in the same vein.

He was given plenty of short deliveries outside off, which he comfortably slapped towards deep point. As the innings progressed, Sangakkara's classic drives started making an appearance. He was also positive against Imran Tahir, using the sweep effectively to blunt the legspinner. One of the other highlights of his innings was his judgment outside the off stump, repeatedly shouldering arms to frustrate the fast bowlers.

It helped Sri Lanka that Samaraweera wasn't his usual cautious self. Instead, fresh from his first-innings century, Samaraweera drove, cut and glanced boundaries on his way to an unusually brisk 43 before being undone by a slider from Tahir. Angelo Mathews then joined the long list of batsmen who played strokes to regret in this match, edging to Boucher after attempting to pull a short and wide delivery.

Fears of a collapse were averted as Sangakkara was supported by Chandimal. The 22-year-old Chandimal had shown in the first innings that he wasn't afraid of going for his shots, and that spirit was evident today as well. He slogged to midwicket and slashed over the slips as he went on to become the first Sri Lankan debutant to make a half-century in each innings of a Test. The highlight was a pull off Dale Steyn for four after some banter between the pair.

The 104-run stand with Sangakkara pushed the lead well beyond 400. Sangakkara already has 27 Test centuries, so they couldn't have been too many nerves in the nineties. Even if there were, he didn't have much time to dwell on it as Kallis presented him a couple of boundary-balls. The century came up with a square drive for two. It was the second hundred in the match for Sri Lanka, after they had managed only one in eight previous Tests in South Africa.

South Africa removed both Sangakkara and Chandimal towards the end of the day, but that hardly altered the match situation as Sri Lanka were still favourites to pull off one of their most famous Test wins.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • anon11 on December 29, 2011, 16:14 GMT

    @ all the SL fans, pls refrain from insulting Mr. Kepler Wessels. He had an opinion and everybody has the right for that. Lets just forget and move on. even we won the match, still there are concerns in our balling dept, lets find solutions for that. Leave that guy alone. SL team has given a fitting reply to everybody who has been (unfair)critics ( including self declared cricket pandits from the neighbourhood) of our team. So SL fans need nt worry. Lets just celebrate the victory humbly.

  • Lion_Breed on December 29, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    Mr. Kepler Vessels (Or Wessels or what ever...Sorry, haven't heard about you enough to get your name right, were you ever part of a world cup winnign squad..Oh my bad.. SA never won a cup eh .. ),

    Let us know if you would like us to send the under 19 SL team for the next match. Now it looks like SA cannot handle the SL National Squad.

  • dummy4fb on December 29, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    morkels,ashwell prince are a hinderance to the squad, put tsotsobe,duminy.

  • siabbasi on December 29, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    Sanga!!! Ma Man. Super Knock!!

  • dummy4fb on December 29, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    chandi is so so best,,Even when he was playing before 4 yaers bacl i said my friend this guy will play sri lanka.Bcos he has a very strong mind set up..Go on my dear

  • UmarFarook on December 29, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    We know Sanga a great player. He is another match winning player from SL like Murali. We welcome much exected win from SL after the exit of Murali. Weldone Sanga and SL. We need match winning bowlers.

  • dummy4fb on December 29, 2011, 6:24 GMT

    @Rizwan-a : Wonderful comments brother. It is great to have have Sri Lankans like you amongst us. I hope Sri Lanka would win this test but irrespective of the result we will always be right behind our team.

  • ramz_01 on December 29, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    Well well ppl dis s hw true lions cums @ u.they nvr barg like da ppl did b4 dis series they show hw good they war in cricket feild.lets 4gt dat ppl nd thnk abt hw SL came back aftr 1st test ws awsm.to won da toss nd bat aftr trashing had in 1st test ws awsm nd showd hw gud dis lions are.very funny to mr wessales talking abt SA A beating dis SL.BT MR WESSALES VERY SAD TO SAY SOUTH AFRICA NT WON HOME SERIES SINCE 2008 dat too agnst bangaladesh.i thnk Mr WESSALES FORGOTN THAt.just 4 a reminder Mr wessales :D

  • dummy4fb on December 29, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    This is purely an effort of players. Not coaches (how mayny we have guys?), selectors, or stupid ministers (who are there to 'approve' names of players). Pure effort to save the name of country. Mr Mahindananda, please stop your bad business inside board and let players to play with a free mind. Dear selectors, you could not assess the talen of Chandimal for 2 years; Thilan in last 2 tours and still do not know whts wrong with Upul Tharanga. You just dont continue dirty games inside SL cricket and let it be property of public. You just do you duty or please go home! Go!!!

  • stormy16 on December 29, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    Finally runs when it mattered from SL and what a knock by Sanga and equally importatant contributions by Chandimal and Thilan in both innings. While SA got wickets, given the overcast conditions, I think they would be bitterly dissappointed at a 400+ lead. SA would have started with thoughts of bowling out SL cheaply but SL did really well. Although I dont see this happening, Dilshan should declare overnight and chase the 20 wickets. With bad light and rain bound to play a role in both days, hope he doesnt do meaningless things like against Pakistan in the last test, where SL batted for 40 minutes on the last day and then ran out of time after it rained in the desert. SA would still fancy chasing this down against this SL attack and I dont see the wicket playing a major role yet - just hope the weather gives cricket a chance.

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