Although Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis were all dismissed playing expansive strokes against the new ball, Dinesh Chandimal said there had not been a concerted plan to be aggressive - it just happened that way.
The first three dismissals, in particular, caused consternation, after Sri Lanka began their innings what was still a seam-friendly Port Elizabeth pitch. In pursuit of South Africa's 286, Sri Lanka soon slipped to 22 for 3. Kusal Perera's attempted cut to a Vernon Philander delivery came in for particular criticism.
"There was no specific plan to score fast," said Chandimal. "We know that that we use Kusal Perera to score quickly, but unfortunately he got out early. This is a tough wicket to bat on. We did make some mistakes and gave them some easy wickets. We need to fight back tomorrow and get as close as we can to their score."
That Perera bats at No. 3 is partly due to Chandimal's own place in the team. Both he and Perera are wicketkeeper-batsmen, but Chandimal is the more accomplished gloveman, and takes that role when he is fit. If Chandimal were to bat further up the order, Perera would likely move down to No. 6 or 7.
"Since Kusal is playing at No. 3, I am given the wicketkeeping duties," Chandimal said. "I can't bat that high because otherwise I'd be tired from keeping. We've given some opportunities to the young guys in our team, and they didn't take them today, but hopefully they will in the second innings."
Dhananjaya de Silva played Sri Lanka's most assured innings of the day, and remains not-out on 43 alongside Dushmantha Chameera. De Silva is an opener for his first-class side, Tamil Union Cricket Club, and has also been talked about as a potential opener or No. 3 batsman, given his experience in the top order. Sri Lanka have, however, been reluctant to move him from the lower-middle order where he presently averages over 60.
"Dhananjaya is an opener, but we have a settled opening combination," Chandimal said. "He's also very good when it comes to batting with the tail. If he can get us a few more runs, it will give us some momentum."