Sri Lanka fight back at the Bullring but SA remains in control

The Proteas resumed day two on 148/1 but were bowled out for 302.
The Proteas resumed day two on 148/1 but were bowled out for 302.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

South Africa's position at tea on the second day of the second Test was a little less imperious as they had hoped for at the Bullring.

Sri Lanka delivered a spirited fight back here on Monday as they claimed the last nine South African wickets for the addition of just 84 runs.

It doesn't so much keep them in the contest or spare them the carnage that might have been inflicted on them deeper into the afternoon.

If they avoided the brutality of the South African bat‚ there was no way of dodging the wrath of the home side's attack.

Having dismissed South Africa for 302 the tourists started their second innings with a 145 deficit and they were soon up against it when their talisman Kusal Perera was comprehensively bowled by Lungi Ngidi for one.

Captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne then negotiated a tricky period to the break and by the time they left the field Sri Lanka were 16/1‚ still trailing by 129.

Much earlier‚ the hosts who started the day on Monday on 148/1‚ just nine runs shy of the Sri Lanka first innings total‚ looked set to pile on the misery for the tourists before the visiting bowlers started to find their range.

In the first hour of play South Africa had firmed their grip on proceedings as Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen continued on their merry way and registered a record second wicket partnership at this ground.

They had put on 184 before they fell in quick succession and with the door ajar Sri Lanka seized the opportunity to kick it wide open.

Their bowlers settled on a more teasing line‚ while hitting a more consistent length as the South African batsmen increasingly complied with the whims of the islanders.

In the opening hour‚ the Sri Lankans served up too many easy pickings as they strayed in length in particular.

Elgar and Van der Dussen gleefully cashed in but the tone of the innings changed after they departed.

Dasun Shanaka in particular was able to nip the ball away from the right handers and while his dismissal of Van der Dussen had an element of good fortune about it when the right hander was strangled down the leg side‚ the bowler induced a genuine hot spot on the edge of Faf du Plessis' red-hot bat.

Captain Quinton de Kock also departed cheaply and South Africa's slump continued shortly after the lunch break when Wiaan Mulder was trapped in front off a full toss that was destined to brush leg stump.

His ability to accelerate the scoring would have been handy in the post lunch session but the accent soon fell on survival as Vishwa Fernando bowled with greater guile and control from the Golf Course End.

His decision to go around the wicket induced a considerable error in judgement from Temba Bavuma who opted to pad up to a delivery that swung back at him.

When Fernando dismissed Lutho Sipamla for five he bellowed a grunt of relief and celebration that echoed around the empty stadium. That dismissal was his fifth in the innings‚ the first time he had completed a 'fifer' at this level.

His 5/101 helped keep South Africa in check but despite the home side's collapse‚ they still carry a considerable advantage into the second innings.