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Lasith Embuldeniya

Embuldeniya five-for leaves game in the balance

SA v SL, 1st Test, day three, report

Lasith Embuldeniya returned bowling figures of 5/66 on debut to help Sri Lanka bowl South Africa out for 259 on day three of the first Test in Durban.

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The left-arm spinner partnered up with the left-arm pace of Vishwa Fernando to initiate a spectacular South Africa collapse in the home side's second innings, as they lost their last five wickets for just eight runs.

Chasing a target of 304, Sri Lanka amassed 83 for the loss of three wickets, before bad light brought an end to the day’s play.

South Africa began day three with Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock at the crease, looking to extend their lead of 170, having ended day two on 126/4.

The pair enjoyed a strong start to the morning, with de Kock in particular demonstrating his attacking prowess. The wicketkeeper-batsman reached his second half-century of the match off of just 56 deliveries as Sri Lanka searched desperately for a breakthrough, with the Proteas’ lead growing comfortably.

It was Embuldeniya that delivered a much-needed wicket, trapping de Kock (55) on his crease with a ball that kept low. Nevertheless, Vernon Philander supported du Plessis through till lunch, with the South African captain reaching his 18th Test half-century.

Faf du Plessis hit 90 from 182 balls
Faf du Plessis hit 90 from 182 balls

After the break, du Plessis and Philander added 24 runs before things began to truly unravel for the batting side. Philander (18) departed to Embuldeniya, as an attempted cut off the back foot simply resulted in the ball crashing into his stumps – another delivery keeping low.

Du Plessis fell 10 runs short of a Test century, with Fernando getting the ball to come back into the right-hander’s pads – the umpire raising the finger for an lbw after du Plessis offered no shot. The collapse continued with Embuldeniya collecting his fifth wicket – the umpire adjudging the ball to have clipped Kagiso Rabada’s (0) glove onto the thigh pad, before nestling into the hands of Niroshan Dickwella.

Fernando took the remaining two wickets, rattling the stumps of both Keshav Maharaj (4) and Dale Steyn (1). From 251/5, the South Africa collapse saw to a final total of just 259.

Vishwa Fernando played a key role in South Africa's implosion with the bat
Vishwa Fernando played a key role in South Africa's implosion with the bat

Sri Lanka’s opening pair of Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne survived for eight overs before tea, completing a mightily impressive session for the visitors.

The previous day had seen Steyn celebrate a four-wicket haul, but it was the probing pair of Rabada and Philander who struck together in quick fashion to send Thirimanne and Karunaratne back to the changing rooms. A wild attempted drive from Thirimanne (21) was of poor judgement, as Rabada found the outside-edge – Du Plessis taking a diving catch at second slip to hand South Africa a much-needed wicket.

Karunaratne’s resistance would break just four deliveries later, Philander finding some movement back into the left hander to have the captain out lbw. Despite a review, the ball was shown to be clipping leg stump, leaving Sri Lanka 42/2.

Kagiso Rabada removed Lahiru Thirimanne for 21
Kagiso Rabada removed Lahiru Thirimanne for 21

Kusal Mendis (0) was the third wicket to fall, a poor attempt at an upper-cut seeing the right-hander offer an edge to de Kock. Oshada Fernando and Kusal Perera initiated a recovery, taking Sri Lanka to 83/3 before the day ended prematurely.

The pair will resume tomorrow with Sri Lanka requiring 221 runs to complete a startling upset over South Africa.

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