South Africa 235 and 126 for 4 (du Plessis 25*, de Kock 13*, Embuldeniya 2-36) lead Sri Lanka 191 (Kusal Perera 51, Steyn 4-48) by 170 runs
South Africa extended their lead to 170 by stumps on the second day of a fast-moving Test at Kingsmead, but lost four wickets in the process. This kept Sri Lanka just about in the game, their persistence with the ball making up a little for their brittleness with the bat as their top order offered flair, but little substance. Kusal Perera's 51 was the top score in their 191.
Dale Steyn collected 4 for 48, moving ahead of Kapil Dev on the all-time wicket-takers list to bowl Sri Lanka out in just over two sessions. Then in the evening, debutant Lasith Embuldeniya took two wickets, and Kasun Rajitha and Vishwa Fernando one each, to keep South Africa to 126 for 4 at the close.
Rajitha struck first for the visitors after South Africa started their second innings after tea, with Aiden Markram offering a lose waft to slip after a breezy 28. Vishwa then found a little extra bounce off a length to surprise Hashim Amla into a glide into the hands of gully, and soon afterwards, Embuldeniya rushed one through Temba Bavuma's sweep to trap him lbw and reduce South Africa to 77 for 3.
Sri Lanka may have found themselves in an even better position had they been able to take the opportunities that came their way. Probing but largely without luck, Vishwa should have had a second wicket - and Sri Lanka a third in the space of four overs - when he found the edge of Elgar's bat before he had made 30, only for Kusal Mendis to put a relatively tough offering down in the slips.
Sri Lanka also missed a clear chance to run Faf du Plessis out early in his innings, but a fumble at cover saw it go begging. Embuldeniya held a stinging return catch to get rid of Elgar before too much damage had been done, but du Plessis and Quinton de Kock added an unbroken 31 thereafter.
While there is still only a fine line separating these two teams in this match, Sri Lanka had started the day in a position of relative strength. But Steyn's repeated incisions, and the inability of the top order to dig in, eroded that position as the day wore on.
Steyn wasn't the fastest South African bowler on show - both Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier bowled quicker, with Rabada nudging towards 150kph at times - but the Sri Lankan lower order, nevertheless, struggled to deal with his attacking lengths.
Sri Lanka also made things harder for themselves as, within the first thirty minutes of play, they had already declined to take a review that would have saved debutant Oshada Fernando when he was given out lbw to Steyn. Replays proved the ball would've missed leg stump. Having failed to use one when they could've been saved, they burnt one when Dimuth Karunaratne was given out and replays only served to confirm the umpire's call.
Neither Kusal Mendis nor Niroshan Dickwella lasted long, undone by Vernon Philander's persistent line in the channel and Olivier's disconcerting bounce respectively. But at the other end, Kusal Perera refused to allow the dismissals to slow his tempo. Having taken back to back boundaries off Philander, he crunched Rabada on the up through cover and then lifted the same bowler for six over deep square leg to race into the 20s.
Dhananjaya followed Kusal Perera's lead in taking the attack to the bowlers, but moments before lunch his propensity to get after the bowling brought his downfall as he fell for a well-laid bouncer trap that was executed by Rabada.
Kusal Perera brought up a 60-ball fifty but he was swiftly running out of partners and with the field spread, he eventually played one shot too many and swatted a slog straight to Zubayr Hamza - on the field as a substitute fielder - at deep extra cover.
The short-ball approach from the quicks went into overdrive when South Africa exposed the soft underbelly of Sri Lanka's tail. Stats revealed over a third of deliveries bowled at the Sri Lankans overall were bumpers.
Like Embuldeniya, Rajitha was also in the firing line, particularly against Olivier, but he ducked and weaved bravely for almost an hour at the crease before the pair's resistance was finally broken by an electric piece of reflex fielding by Markram at short leg, his stop-and-release run-out bringing an end to what was the longest partnership, in terms of balls faced, in the entire innings.
Having resisted for over 90 minutes, Embuldeniya sliced a full ball from Rabada high in the air but only as far as Steyn, back-peddling from cover, to bring the innings to an end and prompt the umpires to call for an early tea. His two wickets later in the day meant that Sri Lanka aren't out of the game yet, even if South Africa hold the advantage.