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Sri Lanka restrict South Africa to 222 but Proteas make early inroads

SA v SL, 2nd Test, day one, report

A stellar bowling display by Sri Lanka, headlined by the impressive Kasun Rajitha and Vishwa Fernando, who both claimed three-fors, restricted South Africa to 222 on day one of the second Test in St George's Park, Port Elizabeth.

Despite half-centuries from Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock, Sri Lanka nabbed wickets at vital times through a combination of consistent bowling, loose shots and a hapless run out.

However, Sri Lanka lost three late wickets as Kagiso Rabada removed Dimuth Karunaratne for a 42-ball 17, after Sri Lanka's openers had soaked up some of the early pressure, and Duanne Olivier saw off Oshada Fernando and Kusal Mendis to leave Sri Lanka on 60/3 at play's end.

After South Africa, still smarting from a Kusal Perera-inspired Sri Lanka victory in the first outing, won the toss and elected to bat, left-arm quick Vishwa Fernando cleaned up both Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla in quick succession, before Temba Bavumu succumbed to a cheap run out by Kasun Rajitha at mid-on to make it 15/3. Markram, at the striker’s end, was unmoved.

He exhibited a portfolio of impressive strokes, the best of which a splendid straight drive, and began to ease South Africa out of the mire, with skipper Faf du Plessis (25) also finding his groove. The rebuild was extinguished, however, when the skipper missed a full, straight one from captain and part-timer Karunaratne on the stroke of lunch.

Entering proceedings at 73/4, de Kock emitted confidence from the get-go with a flurry of dominant drives. Markram reached his fifty off 101 balls, and the opener’s resoluteness and de Kock’s adventure combined well. But while the Proteas needed the duo to build on the partnership’s positive launch, Rajitha, who bossed the second session, emerged to trap Markram lbw, with South Africa failing to overturn on review after the verdict was umpire’s call.

The wicket didn’t deter de Kock, who continued to play high-tempo cricket, but Willem Mulder and Keshav Maharaj, who both fell to the impressive and clearly pumped Rajitha (3/67), didn’t offer much by way of company. Kagiso Rabada did, however, batting sensibly alongside his front-line batting companion.

Rabada and de Kock, who had brought up his 17th half-century, both survived nicks through to the cordon, while the latter also saw a caught-and-bowled chance spilled by Lasith Embuldeniya, who grassed a regulation grab.

After tea, de Kock became visibly restricted by leg and elbow injuries before he was comprehensively bowled by Dhananjaya de Silva (2/15) looking to square-drive a straight one. The twirler then removed Rabada for a 65-ball 22 to make it 221/9. In-between dismissals, Dale Steyn survived a Fernando full toss, deemed a fair delivery under waist-height, which just sailed over the bails.

Duanne Olivier was close to being bowled first ball before nicking the second to gift Fernando (3/62) his third wicket and round-off a professional bowling display from Sri Lanka.

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