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The Report by Abhishek Purohit
July 17, 2014
Sri Lanka 30 for 0 trail South Africa 455 for 9 dec (Elgar 103, Duminy 100*) by 425 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Fernando: Sri Lanka will have to score 600 to win
JP Duminy swept and reverse-swept South Africa to their second-highest total in Sri Lanka as the hosts toiled for little reward on a largely docile pitch. Coming in at No. 8, Duminy made his fourth Test hundred and his first in Asia. He added 75 for the eighth wicket with Vernon Philander and 66 for the ninth with Morne Morkel after Quinton de Kock's maiden Test fifty had taken the visitors past 300 in the morning. Morkel fell right after Duminy reached his century, bringing the declaration from Hashim Amla in the 167th over.
South Africa knew how crucial the first innings could be on a dry surface which was spouting puffs of dust on occasion as deliveries pitched. They weren't causing too many alarms after pitching, though, and South Africa were patient enough to not give their wickets away, unlike what they had done the first evening. At no point was there any attempt to replace that patience with aggression - the run-rates of the last four partnerships were 2.52, 2.57, 2.5 and 2.4.
With only three frontline bowlers after Shaminda Eranga's hand injury, Sri Lanka tried hard to make run-scoring as difficult as they could. They slowed South Africa's progress, but could not stop it. They allowed just 63 runs in 30 overs in the morning session for the wickets of de Kock and Dale Steyn. It was hard work under a hot sun as the pitch refused to yield more than the odd glimmer of turn and bounce, and South Africa took 83 off 28 overs in the second session for the loss of Philander.
One of the few deliveries that did spin and kick claimed de Kock soon after his fifty. Dilruwan Perera tossed up one outside the left-hander's leg stump, from where it kicked across to take the edge through to slip to give Mahela Jayawardene his 198th catch. Before that, de Kock had prospered with a mix of uncertainty, fortune and positive strokes.
Suranga Lakmal, called upon to deliver 33 overs in the heat without Eranga, found de Kock's outside edge twice in his opening spell. Both times, the ball went between second slip and gully. Unruffled, de Kock was quick to pounce on the occasional wide ones from Perera.
De Kock's ability to play spin was a talking point coming into this game and he had his nervy moments against Perera, who found biting turn when he slowed it up. De Kock soldiered on with a few leading and inside edges till Perera produced the lifter just after drinks.
Lakmal had yorked Steyn well before that happened, tricking the nightwatchman with the full one after a couple of short balls. Still, Steyn managed to hang around for over half an hour in the morning, not allowing Sri Lanka to break through with a still-new ball.
Rangana Herath was brought on after drinks and immediately spun one past Philander's outside edge. Philander took 25 deliveries to get off the mark as he and Duminy were tied down before lunch.
Duminy, who came into the game with an average of 13 in Asia, took the lead right after the break, hitting a few boundaries to finally get the partnership going. Lakmal was driven through the covers and down the ground, while Herath was reverse-swept for four. Using the sweep liberally, Duminy kept the runs coming, while also playing with the fields as Sri Lanka were forced to keep a man at deep point even for the left-arm spinner. A sweep for two off Perera gave Duminy his fifty, and the same stroke off the same bowler for a single would bring up his hundred.
Philander eventually grew enough confidence to step out and loft Herath for four, but was caught in front by Mathews for 27.
Morkel and Duminy, who was put down on 82, then stretched the innings and Sri Lanka's labours by another 27.3 overs. Duminy felt the need to protect Morkel only against Lakmal initially, and the No. 10 batsman played the others out with reasonable comfort. In time, Morkel hooked Lakmal for a top-edged four, and lofted Herath twice for boundaries.
Sri Lanka took the third new ball as soon as it was available and it ended their misery immediately, but left their tired batsmen an examination against Steyn and co for a burst of 12 overs. Steyn nearly hit Kaushal Silva's head with a brutal lifter first ball but the opener did well to duck, and left superbly thereafter, only Morkel's extra bounce troubling him somewhat. Upul Tharanga punched his first ball in Tests since 2007 for four, and played a few more catchy cover drives, but was also pinged on the helmet as he ducked into a Philander short delivery which did not rise much. Sri Lanka came through the mini-session without damage.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Abhishek Purohit
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