Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, SSC, 4th day July 27, 2014

South Africa set for final-day spin inquisition

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South Africa 282 and 38 for 1 need another 331 runs to beat Sri Lanka 421 and 229 for 8 dec (Sangakkara 72, Mathews 63*, Morkel 4-45)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Angelo Mathews' outstanding year continued
Angelo Mathews' outstanding year continued © AFP

Sri Lanka had one objective when the day began: score as quickly as possible and declare. They did exactly that as they rattled along at well above four runs an over - more than double what South Africa managed in the first innings - to swell the lead to 368, despite more than an hour being lost due to rain and bad light. In Galle, Sri Lanka had to chase 370 in 120 overs, while here they have a whole day to wheedle out the remaining nine wickets.

Yet again, Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews formed the bedrock of Sri Lanka's effort, with both making brisk half-centuries to extend their purple patches.

With South Africa having turned this game into a long slog for survival, their objective when the day began was to keep the run-rate down. Getting wickets was good, but not good enough if the Sri Lankan run-rate wasn't reined in. The longer Sri Lanka were out there before declaring or being bowled out, the shorter South Africa's batsmen would have to persevere. They hung around for more than four sessions in the first innings, but on a track that has worn down significantly more, it will be miraculous if they last nearly that long in the second.

Sri Lanka knew it as well, and began the morning with a bunch of boundaries. Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander leaked 27 runs in the first four overs before restoring a semblance of control. Upul Tharanga eased the first ball of the day to the long-off boundary, and did the bulk of the early scoring before nicking one through to the keeper on 30.

A Morne Morkel slower ball accounted for the other opener, Kaushal Silva, and Imran Tahir had a reverse-sweeping Mahela Jayawardene dismissed for a rare duck at the SSC. That brought together Sangakkara and Mathews, who rushed the score along.

They were held back for an hour by the rain as the threatening clouds finally opened up at lunch. Every minute lost was a minute less for South Africa to survive, but once play resumed they were reminded of the troubles ahead.

Tahir, as usual, offered loads of full tosses, and when one of them was put away to fine leg by Sangakkara, it brought up his tenth 50-plus score of the year and highlighted how far away South Africa are from solving their spin problem. The next ball pointed out a more immediate worry. Tahir got the ball to explode off the rough, unsettling even the well-set Sangakkara. Given how accurate Herath is, that rough outside the left-hander's offstump is going to be regularly hit before the end of this game, and every time South Africa's batsmen are likely to be guessing what the ball will do.

Though bad light stopped play well ahead of the allowed close, South Africa's batsmen were given a clear idea of what to expect on the final day. For only the second time in their Test history, Sri Lanka opened with two spinners. Herath and Dilruwan Perera had the ball spinning and leaping, there were edges aplenty before Alviro Petersen popped a catch to silly point.

Dean Elgar was hit on the box by a ball that ripped in off the rough, the promoted Quinton de Kock was bemused when a delivery from Perera sharply changed direction outside off. De Kock decided the way to counter the situation was to play his strokes, unlike every South African batsman in this match, and finished the day on 21 off 31.

South Africa can draw major confidence from Johannesburg 2013 and Adelaide 2012 but neither of those great escapes came on tracks as hostile as the one they will face tomorrow. If South Africa do survive, they would have truly earned that No. 1 ranking.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MeijiMura on July 28, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    The Sri Lankans will need to strike early and strike regularly if they want to win this Test and square the series. They will also be worried if wickets don't fall early as de Kock is a batting prodigy and if South Africa don't lose wickets at the other end he is capable of scoring very rapidly. It was a good move by Amla to bring him in at number 3 because he is someone who can put the pressure on the opposition from ball one. If de Kock bats deep into day five and has some good support from the likes of Amla and de Villiers then it is not beyond the realms of possibility that South Africa could actually win the Test and take the series 2-0. The first session will be critical to the outcome of the Test and the series.If I was South Africa I would bat positively throughout the day because if you go ultra-defensive it becomes almost impossible to soak up all of the pressure that will be placed on them. They have to put Sri Lanka under pressure by scoring at every opportunity.

  • SajithaD on July 28, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    @vikias mate, Your comment---"advance congratulations for SA, the TEST CHAMPIONS for winnings test series from India, the ODI CHAMPIONS"............what kind of fan would post a such childish comment like that to attempt to show his team is best......Grow up man...

  • NP_NY on July 28, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    Two spinners opening the bowling and and after almost 70 overs the fast bowlers have bowled only six. This is a shame. SL curators should try to prepare at least slightly more sporty pitches than dust bowls like these that deteriorate drastically on day 5. Even after all that, if SL can't take 10 second innings wickets, the spinners are really useless.

  • Welay-White-Water on July 28, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    South African captain always stood like a big tree. His concentrations continues. Sri Lanka has to field well taking half chances. Specially Hasheem's half chances, one already gone begging. Essential to remove this big TREE as far as SL win is concerned. Duty of on field fighters and behind the scene gurus. Even with an unfamous draw Mathews,Sanga and Mahela are the happy chapmen of the tour of Hasheem.

  • HateCritics on July 28, 2014, 9:14 GMT

    South africans only hope is Amla. If he sticks around a draw can be expected which would mean a first consecutive series win for SA.

  • on July 28, 2014, 8:50 GMT

    Srilanka beat England in England and now close to losing from SA in srilanka all thanks to 2 match test series at least a 3 match test series is required.At the same time in parallel universe India,England and Australia are playing upto 5 match test series.

  • on July 28, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Poor umpiring shatters SL's hopes

  • Monoz1976 on July 28, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    @vkias: Sorry to disappoint mate. It is not SSC, it is Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai has the highest drawn matches percentage followed by Green Park, Kanpur from Asia in tests. No SLn ground at top 10. SSC stays at the 12th place. i Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai - India 0.61; Green Park, Kanpur - India 0.57; Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore - Pakistan 0.55;Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad - Pakistan 0.54;Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad - India 0.50; Eden Gardens, Kolkata - India 0.48; Punjab C.A. Stadium, Mohali, Chandigarh - India 0.45; Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi - India 0.43;National Stadium, Karachi - Pakistan 0.43;Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka -Bangladesh 0.41;M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore - India 0.40;Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo - Sri Lanka 0.35 http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;host=25;host=6;host=7;host=8;orderby=percentage_drawn;qualmin1=10;qualval1=matches;template=results;type=aggregate;view=ground#

  • lazyone on July 28, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    So far in this tour, win the toss and win the match

  • therealutopianindigent on July 28, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    Herath is simply unplayable under these conditions. Much under-estimated, this finger-spinning wizard.

    Matthews effectively eliminated the only viable option against Herath by declaring slightly conservatively: otherwise trying to bludgeon the runs before 10 wickets fall would've been an option. People may criticize Matthews if the rain saves South Africa, but who can fault a man who is batting like him at the moment? Without him Sri Lanka wouldn't even have been in a position to square the series.

    So only two uncertainties remain: Will it rain? Will the Proteas' technique against spin hold for another few hours? (In other words, has Gary Kirsten had enough time with them? ;-)

  • MeijiMura on July 28, 2014, 0:36 GMT

    The Sri Lankans will need to strike early and strike regularly if they want to win this Test and square the series. They will also be worried if wickets don't fall early as de Kock is a batting prodigy and if South Africa don't lose wickets at the other end he is capable of scoring very rapidly. It was a good move by Amla to bring him in at number 3 because he is someone who can put the pressure on the opposition from ball one. If de Kock bats deep into day five and has some good support from the likes of Amla and de Villiers then it is not beyond the realms of possibility that South Africa could actually win the Test and take the series 2-0. The first session will be critical to the outcome of the Test and the series.If I was South Africa I would bat positively throughout the day because if you go ultra-defensive it becomes almost impossible to soak up all of the pressure that will be placed on them. They have to put Sri Lanka under pressure by scoring at every opportunity.

  • SajithaD on July 28, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    @vikias mate, Your comment---"advance congratulations for SA, the TEST CHAMPIONS for winnings test series from India, the ODI CHAMPIONS"............what kind of fan would post a such childish comment like that to attempt to show his team is best......Grow up man...

  • NP_NY on July 28, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    Two spinners opening the bowling and and after almost 70 overs the fast bowlers have bowled only six. This is a shame. SL curators should try to prepare at least slightly more sporty pitches than dust bowls like these that deteriorate drastically on day 5. Even after all that, if SL can't take 10 second innings wickets, the spinners are really useless.

  • Welay-White-Water on July 28, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    South African captain always stood like a big tree. His concentrations continues. Sri Lanka has to field well taking half chances. Specially Hasheem's half chances, one already gone begging. Essential to remove this big TREE as far as SL win is concerned. Duty of on field fighters and behind the scene gurus. Even with an unfamous draw Mathews,Sanga and Mahela are the happy chapmen of the tour of Hasheem.

  • HateCritics on July 28, 2014, 9:14 GMT

    South africans only hope is Amla. If he sticks around a draw can be expected which would mean a first consecutive series win for SA.

  • on July 28, 2014, 8:50 GMT

    Srilanka beat England in England and now close to losing from SA in srilanka all thanks to 2 match test series at least a 3 match test series is required.At the same time in parallel universe India,England and Australia are playing upto 5 match test series.

  • on July 28, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Poor umpiring shatters SL's hopes

  • Monoz1976 on July 28, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    @vkias: Sorry to disappoint mate. It is not SSC, it is Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai has the highest drawn matches percentage followed by Green Park, Kanpur from Asia in tests. No SLn ground at top 10. SSC stays at the 12th place. i Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai - India 0.61; Green Park, Kanpur - India 0.57; Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore - Pakistan 0.55;Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad - Pakistan 0.54;Sardar Patel (Gujarat) Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad - India 0.50; Eden Gardens, Kolkata - India 0.48; Punjab C.A. Stadium, Mohali, Chandigarh - India 0.45; Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi - India 0.43;National Stadium, Karachi - Pakistan 0.43;Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka -Bangladesh 0.41;M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore - India 0.40;Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo - Sri Lanka 0.35 http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;host=25;host=6;host=7;host=8;orderby=percentage_drawn;qualmin1=10;qualval1=matches;template=results;type=aggregate;view=ground#

  • lazyone on July 28, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    So far in this tour, win the toss and win the match

  • therealutopianindigent on July 28, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    Herath is simply unplayable under these conditions. Much under-estimated, this finger-spinning wizard.

    Matthews effectively eliminated the only viable option against Herath by declaring slightly conservatively: otherwise trying to bludgeon the runs before 10 wickets fall would've been an option. People may criticize Matthews if the rain saves South Africa, but who can fault a man who is batting like him at the moment? Without him Sri Lanka wouldn't even have been in a position to square the series.

    So only two uncertainties remain: Will it rain? Will the Proteas' technique against spin hold for another few hours? (In other words, has Gary Kirsten had enough time with them? ;-)

  • on July 28, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    SA doing what they do best.

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    @Mervo...im watching the test matches since from 15 years...not able to comprehend it...may be typical SL style, without that the winning is NOT POSSIBLE...Amla is the first south African captain to win test series in Lanka...what an innings that was, unbeaten 139

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    Thanx god match started again...ABD, Amla and company will make mockery of this SL attack, ready to see it in net and along with comments in cricinfo...opened only two pages in my laptop

  • on July 28, 2014, 7:02 GMT

    This is the reason Australia have been the only team to beat/give a good contest to SA over the years , as of the tough brand of cricket SA play where they grind the opposition into the ground then take the win or battle out a draw usually in the last test winning a series 1-0 or drawing, but Australia usually get SA out of the comfort zone with Aussies playing a attacking brand and come out on top a lot ( mainly in SA) . Com'on we want a 5 test series between these two Giants home and away!

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 6:47 GMT

    @Mervo...im watching the test matches since from 15 years...not able to comprehend it...may be typical SL style, without that the winning is NOT POSSIBLE...Amla is the first south African captain to win test series in Lanka...what an innings that was, unbeaten 139

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    I was eagerly waiting to see the innings of ABD, Amla and Faf (the 4th innings heroes for SA)...finished my all work early today...but rain gods disappointing me...it seems very gloomy but cant avoid ...advance congratulations for SA, the TEST CHAMPIONS for winnings test series from India, the ODI CHAMPIONS

  • Mervo on July 28, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    Opening the bowling with two spinners? After watching cricket for 50 years, this is a game with which I am not familiar.

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    @Lassie.Perera…952 runs in tests came on super highway…more than 90% of test matches ended in draw in that venue…BD also scored more than 600 runs there

    Highest total in ODI came against Holland which has not even have test status (India scored 400 runs against SA, WI, SL…and only team to post more than 400 total 5 times)….i consider the highest total in ODI is by SA, closely followed by Aus (in incredible Johannesbourg match, the match of super human performance) Highest total in T20 came against Kenya…which is also not having test status (India's highest total in T20 came against England in bouncy pitch of SA)

    India is the only team to chase more than 350 runs thrice in ODI's, more than 200 runs total twice in T20's…

  • Welay-White-Water on July 28, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    SSC under clouds. Kock,AB,JP affair for less than 90 overs. Up to the final day of the series it was the land of Hashim.

  • vkumar_086 on July 28, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    @Lassie.Perera…952 runs in tests came on super highway…more than 90% of test matches ended in draw in that venue…BD also scored more than 600 runs there

    Highest total in ODI came against Holland which has not even have test status (India scored 400 runs against SA, WI, SL…and only team to post more than 400 total 5 times)….i consider the highest total in ODI is by SA, closely followed by Aus (in incredible Johannesbourg match, the match of super human performance) Highest total in T20 came against Kenya…which is also not having test status (India's highest total in T20 came against England in bouncy pitch of SA)

    India is the only team to chase more than 350 runs thrice in ODI's, more than 200 runs total twice in T20's…

  • Basil777 on July 28, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    This match is draw the rain is working for SA; and on top of that SA batsman does not fail often

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 28, 2014, 5:26 GMT

    Looks like my rain dance has worked this morning...I will certainly be doing a few more. The No.1 Ranking in the world looms over the horizon.

  • on July 28, 2014, 5:06 GMT

    SA should play for draw...

  • on July 28, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    With due respect Sl playing good cricket, but SA got still five player whom got ability to fight alone and win any game at their day. If you are disagree then you don't understand cricket.. Hope it's draw fair result...:)

  • on July 28, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Bad luck for SL as rain is appeared unexpectedly after long time exactly on the day that SL planed to click the win. With master crafts on the SA line up it will be a very difficult task to pack them up in one day. As I previously declared this will be an another drawn Test match unless something miracle is happened.

  • on July 28, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    Umpires give their full support for SA to draw the match

  • yogicoolboy on July 28, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    i Think this match will be draw. Unless South Africa Play badly. All depends on first session

  • social_monster09 on July 28, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Australia's no.1 ranking is now in hands of Lankan spinners. I hope a thrilling end if rains will stay away for the whole day. But it's not too easy for SL to get 9 African wickets. But if SA is thinking to play aggressively & to achieve the target then it will be all over for SA for sure, match will end before tea. Try to stay long on crease. In which Africans are master class. Actually whole SA batting is rely on their 3 batsmen ABDV, Amla & Faf. Took these 3 wickets & game over. Sorry SA fans if I am rude but I want that SL will win today.

  • SLSup on July 28, 2014, 3:42 GMT

    Aruna Udda: 38/1 in 17 overs (including 4 byes) is is not exactly different to how SA played the 1st Inning. Let's not forget this is the world's #2 ranked team (by a long way per points) playing against the 6th best (SL) at SSC that has seen a team LOSING THE TOSS goes on to win 14 times out of 22 Tests that has produced results. 35 completed Tests with 22 wins. It's a results oriented wicket where I don't even recall ZIM or BNG ever scoring less than 100 after batting for OVER 50 OVERS on ANY DAY of a Test, let alone the 2nd Day.

    Qualifier on above: Sanga's comment that it's a new laid pitch. But considering Dumini himself said on 3rd Day it is still a good wicket to bat perhaps validate there was no need for SA's unprecedented defensive play on 2nd Day.

    Take away: Those who say SSC produce games decided by the toss are ALWAYS WRONG!

  • rk_ks on July 28, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    @NuwanL: Out was unfortunate. Can we say that if you win then it is an unfortunate win.

  • Proteas_Supporter on July 28, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man. Faf du Plessis it is! It will need a special effort from Faf, AB & Amla to save this Test and Series. Good luck Proteas!!!

  • Al_Entity on July 28, 2014, 2:21 GMT

    So many Indians with Anti-Srl sentiments posting on a Srl vs SA match. Typical.

  • Haider-pak-awsome on July 28, 2014, 0:58 GMT

    SA should be up 2-0. Amla and AB would be unstoppable with weak SL bowling. All the best SA. we always support you because of the spirit with which you play.... from Pak

  • Nuwan_Lorensuhewa on July 28, 2014, 0:02 GMT

    There was not many discussing Mahela's dismissel which I think is a very controversial decision. It is human the main umpire to give it out, but with the third umpire's review it was quite evident that there was a frame missing between the ball approaching the glove (before) and it hitting the arm guard. One could argue it brushes the glove, but one could argue it did not. What is a normal (from what I have experienced from history of cricket) is the "benefit of the doubt" should be given batsman's way, but which Billy did not do here. Whilst Billy has proved himself a very fair umpire, but this decision took me by surprise. If all the angles we all saw (as replays) are the same what Billy had to decide, I believe it is a very controversial decision.

  • dunger.bob on July 27, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game: Thanks for the summary GG. I have a personal dislike for ultra-defensive tactics simply because I don't think it's a good idea in all but the direst of situations. However, it's easy to say that perched in my comfortable arm chair as opposed to being out in the middle facing the music I guess.

    AS I said before this game is far from over. Will we see another great escape or maybe even a red hot tilt at getting the runs? .. The latter definitely won't be easy but at the same time not impossible either. .. I don't actually think SA will go for it for the simple reason they don't really have to. A draw will suite them fine.

  • Albert_cambell on July 27, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    All 3 results are possible tomorrow. But I really cant see SL taking 9 of our wickets in 90 overs. SL doesnt have the bowlers to do that. I would put money on SL if the had the likes of Murali and Vass in their team. Its going to be a SA win or a draw. We are on our way to make history in SL tomorrow. We will be the 2nd team to win both Test and ODI series in the same tour after Aus. Our boys will answer all our critics who say we cant perform on rank turners.

  • Tinybaba on July 27, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    Whatever the outcome of this match ( it looks SL is almost certain to wing provided weather gods doent want that to happen ) we will see the end of test cricket carriers of a minimum of three playesr in either side. Ajantha Mendis isnt a test match stuff though he is a good ODI bowler hence he will get the axe surely. From SA angle , it will be Imran Thahir and Alviro Peterson as both were well below required standrad.

  • on July 27, 2014, 22:31 GMT

    I reckon SA will approach the chase differently to the 1st innings. They will let De Kock go in and play his natural game and if he gets going it will set panic in SL camp. If they keep wickets till tea AB is capable of turning any match on it's head. I reckon Ajantha will get among the wickets for SL in this innings. If weather hold up we shall see and interesting day of Cricket.

  • Lassie.Perera on July 27, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    Cricket is just a game of sport and whoever performing well in this game we have to appreciate it. As a Sri Lankan I always like the way Sri Lankans play their cricket and what they have achieved so far. Sri Lanka is a tiny little Island with 20 million population. In cricket there are 3 formats. Test, 50/50 and 20/20. Test Highest Innings World Record is 952 (Sri Lanka) 50 Overs Highest Innings World Record is 443 (Sri Lanka) T20 Overs Highest Innings World Record is 260 (Sri Lanka) I just mentioned these records for few people who always trying to tarnish the image of Sri Lankan Cricket. In cricket nobody can not win all the time. As long as SL playing consistently good cricket that's what matters for us.

  • on July 27, 2014, 21:41 GMT

    It seems to me the Sri Lankans who have submitted comments have a chip on their shoulder. Get it right, the pitch nis rubbish. When the ball is turning square and bouncing it is almost impossible to play proper cricket. In my opinion it massively favours the home side.

  • on July 27, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    SA lost this test on the first day when they did not bowl well to Mihela Jayawardene. I am particularly disappointed with Tahir's bowling. He is a good limited overs' bowler, but somehow looses his composure in the longer version with full toss upon full toss. No pressure is built that way. Similarly, Vernon Philander bowled with no urgency and purpose. He appears not to know how to find the right length on sub-continent pitches. He was not assisted by some catches dropped off his bowling causing him to loose confidence. Two wickets of tailenders is all he can show. His place in the side is not yet in danger due to his improved batting, but his bowling form is a huge concern. Alviro Peterson has sadly come to the end of his test career. He has no clue how to play spin and gives his wicket away to easily. Morkel's bowling has improved a lot, perhaps because he is bowling fuller. He is the worst No 11 batsman in the world now. Can someone help him, his batting is embarrassing!

  • Herath-UK on July 27, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    Weather will most probably save SA tomorrow & though they will win the series but will not be overtly happy with the ball tampering tag behind their victory. From the manager to the SA board handling of this serious issue could have been better.Sri Lanka should experiment with more new players for the middle order & the opening slot in the Pak series.

  • yohandf on July 27, 2014, 19:52 GMT

    @ sandeep manjrekar - cricket pitch is not pizza where you can insert different layers . of course it is deteriorating as match goes on . but its was not a road on day 1 nor a minefield on day 2 . Mahela played positively for his hundred and his knowledge helped . Having to chase 400+ ,Amla came up with surviving approach still succeeded with patience . Mahela got out in second innings playing a unnecessary stroke but he and all the rest sis for team in quest of a win . Lets see whts going to happen tomorrow .

  • Nuwan_Lorensuhewa on July 27, 2014, 19:48 GMT

    @SandipManjrekar What is this hatred towards Sri Lanka? Not appreciating Mahela's first innings. And his second innings out was a bit unfortunate, but anyone could understand it was a result of clear try to increase run rate, not SA's excellent balling. And you say Amla's hundred (hat's off for that) was the only highlight, forgetting Sanga's n Mathew's innings, which is runs plus accelerating rate. And you talk about toss winning matches and on... and not talk about 1st Match which SA won the toss. And if there is a pitch which does not change over 5 days of cricket it would have been made out of concrete. Stop the hatred my friend. Appreciate both sides in the name of the cricket.

  • stumpedlloyd on July 27, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    @Lassie.Perera: Of course, there are spinning tracks in Australia. Ever see a test match at the SCG?

  • SandipManjrekar on July 27, 2014, 18:11 GMT

    The pitch has played greater role in some performances of this test match. No doubt about it that SL & particularly Mahela had got lifeless track advantage on day 1. It was proved in 2nd inning of SL when Mahela was not able to score. He was not able to stand on wicket not more than 6 balls. Day 2 of test match made it worst for batsmen as they had to face on a wicket that behaved like to be of 5th day condition. One fluke inning of 140 runs made advantage SL. Look like toss won match won. The highlight of the match was Amla's hundred. A top quality inning in tough conditions.

    If SA play for win tomorrow, they would be true champions. Even if the match gets draw, their feat would be no less than champion. On the other hand, SL are relying on spinners only as all overs bowled today by themselves. If they had declared with 300 lead, they would be in some hopeful condition as they would get more overs to bowl SA out. All depends on weather.

  • SILVERSANGA on July 27, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    The declaration seems to be too little too late. 320 would have been enough. Nah SA will never score 330+ in the final day and win the game. If anyone predicting it, there's something seriously wrong with him. SA will surely play for draw. They sent Kock early, only to make sure the best batsmen will come last and also to avoid Kock getting out cheaply as a middle order in a critical situation.

    As much as I hate these 2 match test series, this seems like a definite swinging between a draw and SL win. Among all Asian nations SL has had the best winning % in test matches in last 2 years both home and Away! Hope SL can continue their undefeated streak in a test series since losing 3-0 in Australia back in early 2012. Best of luck Lions...And hopefully no rain.

  • Greatest_Game on July 27, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    @ dunger.bob asked "So, can someone enlighten me. Was SA's run-rate a product of really good Sri Lankan bowling or a set plan or a bit of both?"

    Sorry to disappoint, Bob, but that was no set plan, strategy or tactic, just hidebound, mindless "groupthink." They have seen guys like Kallis bat it out, but don't grasp the fact that he employed a combination of defense & attack to not allow bowlers to dominate. Yes, he could block & block, but would produce a boundary soon enough. He'd watch the bowler building a strategy, & then attack that strategy to score. It frustrated the hell out of bowlers. Besides, without scoring, batting is pointless anyway!

    But, Kallis was a very astute cricketer. Amla's batting showed those qualities, application, & the same result - another ton ground out. However, most of SA's players will not be remembered for their extraordinary intellect!

    And, of course, the SL bowlers' skill & brilliant control easily exposed & defeated such mindless batting.

  • vkumar_086 on July 27, 2014, 17:12 GMT

    Tomorrow rain is forecasted...so it is not able to bowl more than 70 overs due to rain interruptions...in this 70 overs, SL bowlers cant take remaining 9 wickets against the rock solid defence of ABD & Faf (saved many test matches for SA, recently Johannesbourg Test), Amla (battled almost 6 hours in first innings without giving his wicket), Duminy (faced 58 balls in first innings)...Quinton Kock is still in crease, Philander, Steyn can also bat...with all these possibilities, winning is impossible...so SA is clearly ahead..and win the series by 1-0...become the third country that win both test and ODI series simultaneously in SL after India, Aus

  • siddhartha87 on July 27, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    South Africa should play their natural game on day 5. It's a tricky pitch ,they should not try to go ultra offensive. Go for 160-170 runs in first 60 overs. If they got lots of wickets in spare after that then go for a win. No need to try anything heroic

  • Balumekka on July 27, 2014, 16:20 GMT

    Even if SA attacked spinners, I don't think Mathews will switch himself back to defensive mode. There's nothing to lose for SL and they will persist attacking mode as they are already 0-1.

  • LAKINGSFAN on July 27, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    Q de Kock should go on early. He should score as fast as he can and put the pressure directly on SL and not let the bowlers settled.

  • VikumHerath on July 27, 2014, 15:31 GMT

    This is how the SL Batsmen fared against SA bowlers in the 2 Tests Series:

    AD Mathews- 242 runs - 89 HS - Av 121.0

    Sangakkara - 172 runs - 76 HS - Av 43.0

    Mahela J - 178 runs - 165 HS - Av 44.5

    Upul Tharanga - 138 runs - 83 HS - Av 34.5

    Kaushal Silva - 112 runs - 44 HS - Av 28.0

    Work hard.. keep it tight & squire the series... ! Pl don't spill any catches... you can do it boys..!! Good Luck .. Weather Gods, please don't interrupt the final day's play.!!! ()

  • LAKINGSFAN on July 27, 2014, 15:27 GMT

    It's SA win or draw. Match nicely poised for SA to decide what they want to do.

  • on July 27, 2014, 15:26 GMT

    Rain might save SA from losing the game. Its very unfortunate for Sri Lanka that rain came down today and might do tomorrow. Sri Lanka completely dominating the game but might run short of time. SA are only blocking every delivery without thinking about runs

  • Monoz1976 on July 27, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    @ vkias @ Rajesh_india_1990: Still it is within the spirit of the game. SL doesn't use poor tactics such as mentally knocking the opposition best bowler down.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 27, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    @fiddlerv90 You raise a very good point, which had not crossed my mind. Why did Amla send in De Kock to bat at 3? As you rightly said, he probably was promoted to boost the run rate, when he came in the run rate went to 4 runs per over. So perhaps there is a plan to attack the Sri Lankan spinners more to try get a threatening partnership that will have Matthews sweating. Just not sure if there is enough overs in the day tomorrow to warrant a win.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 27, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    @Psimondo I have to concede and agree with almost all your points.

  • vkumar_086 on July 27, 2014, 14:37 GMT

    Bad weather is saving SL from ABD, Amla onslaught....SL is very lucky, but not lucky enough to escape from series loss...1-0....congratulations SA for first test series win in SL!!! keep up the good work

  • fiddlerv90 on July 27, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    Has it ever occured to some of you that SA wanna pull off a victory in this match?? 1. Why SA sent de kock ahead of faf ? 2.peterson fell in the 9th over with score being 1/4. De Kock & Elga made 34 runs in 8 overs at RR above 4.

    My point is SA wanna go for this target and if they loose their best batmen(de Kock,Amla&AB) then Faf and JP would settle for draw. Faf did it before and i don't think he will fail this time.

    In peterson's case, if De kock and Elga can build a massive partnership, then his place could be in jeopardy. He had many several chances and still couldn't capitalise. De kock should open in all formats for SA.

    Matthews should be careful before he taste a whitewash and a series lose in his own turf. His spinners were ineffective after the wicket of poor peterson.

  • SaraJeff on July 27, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Simon Tzu has an interesting idea.

  • dunger.bob on July 27, 2014, 13:47 GMT

    So, can someone enlighten me. Was SA's run-rate a product of really good Sri Lankan bowling or a set plan or a bit of both? .. If SA go on to lose this they can look to their attritional first innings as a major cause of their down fall. They batted enough overs to be in a far better position than this but for some reason just couldn't get enough runs on the board to alter the Lankans plans. .. If it was actually a game plan then all I can say is serve you right. Letting the opposition make the running is a horrible game plan.

    Anyway, it ain't over yet and SA have a well earned reputation for just this sort of thing. SL batted a fair part of today and they were throwing the bat around. It might be easier than everyone thinks for SA to bat out tomorrow. We'll soon see.

  • SLFan-2200 on July 27, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    Upul Tharanga's contribution was also vital to make the declaration possible at least in the 3rd session! Sanga, Mathews & Tharanga were the only 3 players who managed to put up a significant contributions, maintaining above 75 Strike Rates. Upul had faced bulk of the initial spells of Steyn, Morkel & Philender, while Kaushal was repeatedly beaten on the other end producing maiden overs! In fact Upul had got out, while trying to drive another delivery from Steyn, just after a maiden over yielded from the other end. Even Sanga had to work hard to catchup the drawback from the other end. In a match situation like this, I think every batsmen have to think more positively about their run making at a reasonable rate, rather than their personal scores (a S/R like 45.61 is not acceptable in such a situation).! We have seen so many nicks from the blades of each front-order batsmen (including Sang) against the SA pace trio in this series, irrespective of the mode, sedative or aggressive :))

  • Rajesh_india_1990 on July 27, 2014, 13:30 GMT

    As usual weather, bad light everything trying to save Srilanka when de kock is on fire...

  • CricketChat on July 27, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    With so many overs lost today, SA is much closer to drawing this test. Let's remember SA still has 4 batsmen (FAF, Amla, ABD and Juminy) who can block all day long.

  • Psimondo on July 27, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    This game wasn't won by the toss. SA's spin bowling was simply wayward. It's time for Tahir to be dropped from the test squad and give Dane a shot. Tahir is really good in the shorter formats, but seems to lack the concentration required to bowl all day and contain an end (and if we don't have a world class spinner, bring in Parnell and go for an all pace attack with duminy/elgar part time).

    SA's first innings was then very poor, with Amla the sole exception. They shut shop. There was some hope if SA could bowl well in the second innings but once again, the spinners were ineffective, offering full tosses galore and missing their areas.

    Alviro's latest soft dismissal should be the end of his Test career. Why not move Faf to open with Elgar? He's very hard to get out and could see off the new ball easily (lets face it, he's been doing that a lot with Alviro always getting out). That leaves space for a new batsmen, why not give van Zyl or Hendricks a shot?

    Long day tomorrow for SA.

  • Ab_marri on July 27, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    i Think Hashim and AB are such type of players who can do everything for proteas....Small things can take proteas cross the line...Go De Villiers Go...You are a CLASS ACT.....

  • on July 27, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    SL has batted a shade too long. Should have declared atleast another 15 overs before. Good chance now fir SA to draw level given some weather interruptions tomorrow. Don't think more than 70 overs will be possible tomorrow. Angelo has given a life line to SA with his late and defensive declaration.

  • Lassie.Perera on July 27, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa, please try to understand cricket as a sport. When you go to Australia they wouldn't prepare a wicket for spin bowling. Spinning a bawl is an art of cricket. Firstly some people said SSC is a flat wicket. Now some people are saying it's a spinning wicket. Next time what do you want? fast wicket?

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 27, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    Great news that they were pulled off for bad light. This means that if our boys survive until tomorrow afternoon with hopefully another rain delay, then they umpires will be forced to pull them off again at the same light reading.

    Can I also just say how impressed I am with young Quinton de Kocks innings so far. Can you imaging the pressure he was under with Sri Lankans spinners turning it square, brought in up the order, batting with a rough patch outside his offstump the size of a beach towel. What a breathe of fresh air compared to Petersen who for me should be dropped without question along with Tahir. We need positive players in SA now, De Kock batting up the order could be the answer. Then Stiaan Van Zyl can come in at 6.

  • on July 27, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    Weather will play big part tomorrow. SL is in box seat. Another good end on the card. Alma will be the big wicket for SL.

  • Greatest_Game on July 27, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    Another failure by Alviro Peterson. Many here urged the selection of Dane Piedt and dropping Alviro to allow this, as he would produce few runs anyway. That decision would have been very positive: a very talented spinner with more control than Tahir, at the expense of a so-called opener who is little else than a glorified substitute fielder. Piedt, like Tahir, would have made a better contribution with the bat than did Pietersen.

    If Amla intends to get anywhere as skipper, he needs to put his foot down and insist on fielding teams of in-form players whose strengths suit conditions. One soze does not fit all, & Petersen fits nothing.

  • patg on July 27, 2014, 12:07 GMT

    Mathews has great batting talent. He has shown his batting skills on different surfaces. He has the skill to be a great batsman like Sanga. He should bat 3 down as he did in this match. Early in his career he batted way down the line and often end up with the tail and hence lost the opportunity to score big.

  • Sexysteven on July 27, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    Players off due to bad light I thought it had to be dangerous to come off I don't think facing two spinners is dangerous to me the umpires are to quick to take the players off even if the fast bowlers were bowling I still don't see how dangerous that is the batsmen have so much safety gear these days you should never go off for bad light the fans pay to watch cricket not to watch the grass grow which is what they are doing now

  • Greatest_Game on July 27, 2014, 11:40 GMT

    @ ErangaG asks "What if Master Murali was in for SL ? An ideal situ for him here and wont let any of SA batsmen to Settle in."

    What if Master Hugh Tayfield was in for SA. An ideal situ for him here. SL batsmen would have struggled to score a run every 127 balls off the deadly tweaker that Wisden considers to have produced the finest bowling performance of all time. And if Master Barry Richards was in for SA, opening instead of 3 runs per innings Alviro? An ideal situ for him here as he would not have let any of the SL bowlers know where to pitch a ball without seeing it disappear over the boundary. And what if Master Graeme Pollock was in for SA … or Master Jacques Kallis …

    But none of them are, and nor are they going to be. Dreaming of the greats of the the past is just dreaming …. This is the only reality we will face. Let's face it clear eyed.

  • on July 27, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    @tommytucker Every country is going to prepare wickets to suit them so the toss is crucial this has nothing to do with Sri Lanka...We South Africans do the same.

    Chance i.e. the toss has become way too important I think a far better solution would be to have both captains submit sealed bids of a number of runs in exchange for winning the toss.

    So in this game perhaps Amla would have bid 35 runs for the toss & Matthews 45. So Sri lanka would have then 'won' the toss and batted first as normal but their final score would be reduced by 45 runs.

    This would: A - Be fair B - Introduce an exciting new strategic element. C - Never happen due to records and tradition.

  • Nuwan_Lorensuhewa on July 27, 2014, 11:29 GMT

    It seems a few decisions are not going in favor of the Sri Lankans. Uncertain Mahela's decision should have gone to the batsman as benefit of doubt. Further I have never seen play stops as "players in danger" when spin is in operation. Yeah in a way with the spin the Sri Lankans are producing, Players certainly are in danger.

  • ErangaG on July 27, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    What if Master Murali was in for SL ? An ideal situ for him here and wont let any of SA batsmen to Settle in.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 27, 2014, 10:50 GMT

    Another pitch in Sri Lanka that is decided by the Toss. RIP Test cricket.

  • Sbora on July 27, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    Sri Lanka are favourite now, but one cannot write Sans win off as yet.

  • on July 27, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    SA would win this. AB Devillers with bring it home

  • on July 27, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    Poor decision by umpire....

  • St.John on July 27, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    The floodgates will open after the fall of the fifth Sri Lankan wicket. The infamous lower middle order and tail usually go for just a few paltry runs. Maybe, just maybe SA have an outside chance to win this, unless the wicket crumbles and Herath & Perera prove difficult.

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    Very poor shot selection ends Mahela's innings @ SSC, which will add more preassure for middle order, if SL wants press for a win !

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Amla need to be aggressive.Amla has to think about winning not drawing the match.As Australian does. Loss the match instead of a draw surely u will learn more and ur confident will be high.

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:26 GMT

    Hashim Amla 139 n.o. What a classy player he is. A real player can perform and score runs at any number as Hahim did at No.4. Keep it up you great Amla.

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    Please any one say how they rule its out without any evidence of ball hits the glows of mahelea (the beat batsmen of srilanka in first inners). This is so unfair cricket no commentator (even srilankan ) will say it. if its happen to SA player how many times they will say my above mention point Come on srilanka you will be payback .Iam sure it will be big cursor when SA batting

  • Eclipse0990 on July 27, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    Will SL take the risk and declare once the lead is 350? That'd make for an interesting match. Or will Matthews go for 450 runs cushion which would make for a safer target as well as increase the probability of a draw.

  • Eclipse0990 on July 27, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    Will SL take the risk and declare once the lead is 350? That'd make for an interesting match. Or will Matthews go for 450 runs cushion which would make for a safer target as well as increase the probability of a draw.

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    Please any one say how they rule its out without any evidence of ball hits the glows of mahelea (the beat batsmen of srilanka in first inners). This is so unfair cricket no commentator (even srilankan ) will say it. if its happen to SA player how many times they will say my above mention point Come on srilanka you will be payback .Iam sure it will be big cursor when SA batting

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:26 GMT

    Hashim Amla 139 n.o. What a classy player he is. A real player can perform and score runs at any number as Hahim did at No.4. Keep it up you great Amla.

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Amla need to be aggressive.Amla has to think about winning not drawing the match.As Australian does. Loss the match instead of a draw surely u will learn more and ur confident will be high.

  • on July 27, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    Very poor shot selection ends Mahela's innings @ SSC, which will add more preassure for middle order, if SL wants press for a win !

  • St.John on July 27, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    The floodgates will open after the fall of the fifth Sri Lankan wicket. The infamous lower middle order and tail usually go for just a few paltry runs. Maybe, just maybe SA have an outside chance to win this, unless the wicket crumbles and Herath & Perera prove difficult.

  • on July 27, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    Poor decision by umpire....

  • on July 27, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    SA would win this. AB Devillers with bring it home

  • Sbora on July 27, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    Sri Lanka are favourite now, but one cannot write Sans win off as yet.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 27, 2014, 10:50 GMT

    Another pitch in Sri Lanka that is decided by the Toss. RIP Test cricket.