Sri Lanka build a mammoth lead

Sri Lanka 470 and 211 for 4 (Atapattu 72, Sangakkara 64) lead South Africa 189 (Smith 65, van Jaarsveld 51, Jayasuriya 5-34) by 492 runs

Sanath Jayasuriya's magic touch with the ball continued on the third day in Colombo as he took career-best figures of 5 for 34, triggering a spectacular South African collapse and giving Sri Lanka a whopping 281-run first-innings lead. Sri Lanka then decided not to enforce the follow-on and instead celebrated their dominance with a rollicking start to their second innings, hinting at a late-evening declaration. In the event they batted on to finish the day at 211 for 4, with a huge lead of 492.

South Africa, who had started the day on 116 for 3 and confident of drawing reasonably close to the Sri Lanka total, could be forgiven for being just a little shell-shocked after their dramatic afternoon slide. Their morning was poor, as Jayasuriya whipped out Graeme Smith (65) and Jacques Kallis (13), but the afternoon was even more woeful, as the last four wickets tumbled in the space of just 19 balls to leave South Africa 189 all out - an inexcusable total on a flat pitch.

Rangana Herath, only in the team because of Muttiah Muralitharan's shoulder injury, played a fine support act to Jayasuriya. Up to lunch he had toiled 23 overs without a wicket, but first ball after the break he had Boeta Dippenaar (25) caught at silly point - a decision which appalled the batsman. Next over, Shaun Pollock (1) was struck in front while playing an awkward looking paddle-sweep and Makhaya Ntini (0) was utterly bamboozled by Herath's clever arm ball, which flattened the off stump.

A savage batting assault followed Sri Lanka's dream start, leaving them in a seemingly invincible position. Eyebrows were raised in the press box when the follow-on was not enforced, but Sri Lanka's rationale was sensible enough: their bowlers would enjoy a rest - although Chaminda Vaas and Upul Chandana did not even bowl today - and, more importantly, South Africa's best and only realistic chance of winning would be to defend a small target on a crumbling last-day pitch.

Marvan Atapattu set the tone for the innings with a classical and dismissive brace of boundaries in the first over. Jayasuriya (19) followed suit by clobbering his first ball over cover. The first-wicket pair added 46 in just 53 balls before South Africa, understandably rattled, were given some breathing space when Jayasuriya charged a ludicrously long way down the pitch and was stumped down the leg side by Mark Boucher, who dived full-stretch one way, and then stretched back to knock off the bails (46 for 1).

But the respite proved short-lived as Kumar Sangakkara, the first-innings double-centurion, turned the screws again. A few months ago, while being led by the super-defensive Hashan Tillakaratne, Sri Lanka might have settled for the slow grind. But here they went for the jugular. Sangakkara steamed past fifty in only 43 balls, and Sri Lanka sped along at five runs an over.

Kallis finally broke through after tea, when Sangakkara skyed one to Ntini at mid-off, after making 64 (142 for 2). Mahela Jayawardene did not last long, gloving Kallis down the leg side (149 for 3). Kallis's double strike dragged back the run rate, as he and Nicky Boje produced tight spells to force Sri Lanka into delaying the declaration. Shortly before the close, Atapattu fell to Jacques Rudolph, after making 72 from 151 balls.

When South Africa resumed first thing, Atapattu had started with Jayasuriya, but it was Herath who came closest to breaking through first. Smith, determined to be positive, clipped powerfully in the air but Sangakkara, falling backwards with his arms stretched high at short midwicket, was unable to hold on. Smith celebrated with a pulled boundary and a bold lofted clip off Jayasuriya.

But unlike Sangakkara, who made South Africa pay for their butter-fingered catching, Smith was unable to capitalise on his letoff, and chipped a head-high return catch back to Jayasuriya a few overs later (140 for 4).

Next over, cheered on by a full stand of excitable schoolchildren, Jayasuriya celebrated even more ecstatically as Kallis, the cornerstone of the batting, chopped a low, skidding delivery onto his stumps (141 for 5). South Africa, cruising the previous evening on 109 for 1, had lost four wickets for 32 runs. Then Lasith Malinga sealed Sri Lanka's morning when Rudolph wafted loosely and was caught down the leg side (166 for 6).

If South Africa are to save the match from here, it's going to take more then they've managed so far this series, because taking on Sri Lankan bowlers on a fourthand fifth-day SSC pitch is not a task for the faint of heart.