South Africa v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 2nd day January 4, 2012

South Africa well placed after batsmen's day


Stumps Sri Lanka 149 for 2 (Sangakkara 35*, Jayawardene 7*) trail South Africa 580 for 4 (Kallis 224, de Villiers 160*, Petersen 109) by 431 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

There was a sense of déjà vu as the action unfolded on the second day at Newlands, before Graeme Smith ended Sri Lanka's agony with an aggressive declaration that came 30 minutes before tea. Jacques Kallis was balletic in the morning, and AB de Villiers ballistic after lunch to leave Sri Lanka facing for a nightmarish day, reminiscent of the one India had endured a few hours earlier in a different continent. However, Smith's move provided respite, as he gambled for more time at the cost of some cheap runs. Sri Lanka then produced fireworks of their own, in equal parts vindicating and undermining the declaration.

Until then, it was a day for relentless pursuit of batting milestones. Like Michael Clarke in Sydney, Kallis strolled inevitably to a double-century in front of his home crowd. Like in Centurion in 2010, he had de Villiers for company when he got to the landmark. Back then, de Villiers had smashed the fastest century by a South African. This time he was more sedate in reaching 100, but unleashed mayhem thereafter, scoring his last 60 runs off only 29 balls. South Africa plundered 87 off the last 10 overs of their innings, with Jacques Rudolph also chiming in with a half-century before Smith signalled the ceasefire.

Regardless of the perilous position, Dilshan went for his shots from the outset. Along with the more circumspect Lahiru Thirimanne, he endured more edges and misses in the eight-over passage leading up to tea than his bowlers had produced in the 49 overs they bowled in the day. The pitch had pace and bounce, but the lack of sideways movement allowed Dilshan to hit through the line. He smoked Morne Morkel's first ball after the break through cover before flicking him for four more.

Soon Dilshan paraded his assortment of carves, jabs, and heaves to motor Sri Lanka past 50 in the 13th over. Thirimanne escaped when de Villiers backed away from going for a high-flying edge over the slips, but Morkel had his man two balls later with pure pace. Dilshan's impetuosity gave South Africa a beachhead into the middle order, and Mahela Jayawardene endured a couple of scares against Imran Tahir with stumps in sight. But Kumar Sangakkara's fluent driving suggested the visitors were set to enjoy the best batting conditions of the tour well into the third day.

In all the second day yielded 382 for 3, and the tone was set early when five of the first 12 balls of the morning sped to the boundary. Two of them were outside edges from de Villiers, but the other three were vintage Kallis strokes, unfurled seemingly for the benefit of those who may have missed the first day's action - the sumptuous cover drive, the violent pull, and the coaxed on-drive that gained speed as it rolled away. South Africa's momentum never slackened from there on, and their run-rate was well over four by the time they declared.

Sri Lanka weren't alert enough to capitalise when the chances came. Dhammika Prasad got Kallis to edge one that moved away, but Jayawardene clanged it at second slip. That was in the third over of the day, and by the time the next opportunity came, Sri Lanka had just one fly slip. Angelo Mathews produced a nifty legcutter that reared up and took Kallis' edge, but it was out of Jayawardene's range.

Sri Lanka managed only two maidens in the day. Chanaka Welegedara was so pleasantly surprised by the first, that he smiled. Kallis kept accumulating, before a robust cut and another punch through mid-on took him through the 190s. He passed 200 by chopping Perera through point. Just as murmurs of the first 300 by a South African batsman began to do the rounds, Kallis lost his concentration and gifted Rangana Herath his wicket.

His exit brought no respite, and instead heralded a passage of mind-boggling innovation from de Villiers. More than once, he brazenly opened the face to steer balls on purpose into the gap between slip and gully. After reaching 100, he launched Welegedara expansively over mid-off before flapping a high full toss to fine-leg for four. The spinners had no chance, with Dilshan flying over long-on for successive sixes, and Herath being carved from a foot outside leg stump through sweeper-cover. Rudolph looked at home in the middle order, guiding through gully efficiently and lashing Herath through square leg. South Africa's audacity reached a new high when both batsmen reverse-swept boundaries against the spin from the leg stump line, but Smith outdid them with the timing of his declaration. Despite Sri Lanka's encouraging riposte, his side was firmly in control at stumps.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nimal on January 5, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    "SA well placed after batsmen's day" Well SL have to prove them wrong again... only Sanga, Mahela, Samara can do it... Go on lions prove them wrong AGAIN....

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 7:37 GMT

    fabouloious innnigs classs& shuting a critices mouth heheheh.....loping his batting classss......

  • Napster on January 5, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Now everybody will see that it is not SA fault that they played bad in the 2nd is because of the external pressure to make the series competitive to attract TV audiences so as to not make a loss. think SA will come good in this test match to record an innings win.

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Now SL need to fight out from this, in order to draw this test. I hope at least Mahela and Sanga should bat and take SL to safe position.You can see all the SL bashers away from this sight since they are in serious trouble in AUS. Otherwise you will see hunders of comments against SL from these peoples. Anyway all the best SL.

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 7:03 GMT

    Only six wickets have fallen in two days so far, so SA will be hoping the pitch deteriorates, and SL the opposite. Smith's game plan with the bold declaration is probably to bat a second time (unless follow-on margin is really huge, which is unlikely), and have SL facing Tahir on a hopefully wearing pitch on the 4th and 5th days.

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    Our failures are not beuause of players. Most of them do the best what they can. It's the Selectors, Coaches and Physios who ruin things for SL. What's the use of their Decades of years of experience ? Thay cannot find proper bowlers for proper formats, poor selections in Batsmen, Wicket keepers as well. How can we expect good results from this bunch .?

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    @bmike i totally agree with you.Why the hell are these commentators so damn biased? only russel seems to be the fair person out their even though hes an SL supporter. I dont think People like wessels know how to commentate in a match.Please choose some suitable commentators next time for these kind of series like Tony Greig

  • Dru on January 5, 2012, 5:28 GMT

    @ Miranda - your on to something here but I still cant put a finger on it. Get this feeling that given SL are struggling of late, the knives are out. This treatment is usually for a team that has dominated and has since fallen which SL didnt but has fallen. I can only put it down to the fact people were uncomfortable with SL being ranked that high up the rankings for a long time despite not really having a great team or the home dominance factor. It could be partly because SL have been poor for a while lately and the bowling in this test has been pathetic. Mind you looking at the worlds best pace bowling unit going for over 4 an over puts things in perspective. I dont have a problem with the heading - SA are well placed and miles ahead of the game and SL have to bat the whole day to get a stage of avoiding the follow on. For me Smith declared too early - he was in a position to add another hundred runs without losing too much time which is what I would have done.

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 4:19 GMT

    win or loose sri lanka has done a good job in SA, every one is talking of muraly vass but they did not win a match in SA, dilli did,,so if we can drow this one it whoud be excelent,,, this pitch is still very good to batt and hope every one will chip in specialy our VC, he got the talant and just hope he got the temproment for a 100,, about the pitch if you see all the streat drives in this match you will see its a excelent pitch,,,,

  • Dummy4 on January 5, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    oh no Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan might loose his number one spot at no1 Test all rounder to Kallis! What a shocker! lol

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