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Rain returns after Sri Lanka strike

South Africa 189 and 21 for 2 (Smith 9*, Kallis 1*) trail Sri Lanka 470 and 211 for 4 dec by 471 runs
Scorecard

The fourth day of the second Test was short and sweet. The first two sessions were completely washed out, before a torrential downpour sent the players packing for their hotel after a gripping eight-over passage of play, in which South Africa were reduced to a shaky 21 for 2.

Lasith Malinga provided an electric start to the delayed proceedings, with a brutal delivery in his first over that dismissed Herschelle Gibbs for 4. Smart captaincy also played its part, as Gibbs took evasive action and the ball flew off the handle straight to leg gully, a position rarely used on Sri Lanka's slow, low pitches (4 for 1).

Malinga continued to cause problems in the growing gloom on a pitch that has started to display some signs of uneven bounce. First, Martin van Jaarsveld was cracked on the helmet, prompting a long time-wasting delay for running repairs, and then Graeme Smith edged another rearing delivery high over the slips.

But it was Chaminda Vaas who made the next breakthrough, with a curving yorker that ricocheted off van Jaarsveld's pads onto his off stump (18 for 2). Fortunately, for South Africa, the skies were now darkening so quickly that Malinga was yanked out of the attack. Only one more over was possible before the players ran for cover.

John Dyson, Sri Lanka's coach, was obviously disappointed about the loss of time, but remained upbeat about his team's chances. "We have played really well in this match to get into the position we are in," he said, "so it's a great shame that this bad weather came when it did."

But he added: "The two opening bowlers did a superb job to get those two wickets, and we are very happy to have them two-down after such a short session. We are confident that there is still enough time for us to finish the job."

Eric Simons, South Africa's coach, was far happier, not least because the South Africans were able to watch the Springboks take on New Zealand in the rugby. "Conditions have played into our hands," he said. "We were in a desperate position, but now we have a good chance of saving the game."

Play will start early on the final day, weather permitting, with a minimum of 113 overs scheduled to be bowled.