SA less than 50 runs from 2-0 Test series win against Sri Lanka
The third day of the second and final Test here started with Sri Lanka’s prospects hanging by a thread.
The two most immediate questions that needed answering were how much longer the tourists could prolong their stay at the crease‚ and whether captain Dimuth Karunaratne could reach another ton.
The latter‚ of course‚ was addressed first as Karunaratne duly reached his 10th Test hundred but after his departure the Sri Lankan resistance crumbled.
They went from 176/4 to 211 all out as their bottom too fell out with as much gravitational force as that of the South Africans a day earlier.
It meant the Proteas had to go in pursuit of 67 to win the second Test and wrap the series 2-0.
At lunch the home team were on the cusp having reached 24/0.
Aiden Markram started in positive fashion – jumping as he punched Vishwa Fernando’s first delivery with a horizontal bat for four through the covers.
Markram‚ however‚ had a scare just before the break when a review showed Kusal Mendis had not completed a catch at second slip with the opener on 14.
The day started with Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella trying to rebuild the innings‚ a job they first rolled up their sleeves to on Monday afternoon.
The captain laced Anrich Nortje through the covers for four in the third over of the day before bringing up his ton cutting the bowler’s next delivery for four.
It was a well-deserved ton and one in which the skipper played with intent reaching his 100 with a breezy strike rate of 82.
His presence at the crease was essential if Sri Lanka were going to post a target that would jangle South African nerves.
Nortje‚ however‚ had the last laugh and again accounted for a batsman ill-advisedly going on the pull.
The speed and bounce of Nortje’s delivery proved too hot to handle from the Corlett Drive End and the Sri Lankan captain only succeeded in skying the ball to Wiaan Mulder who had to move to his left at square leg to pouch the catch.
His 103 came off just 123 balls and included 19 fours and helped lend respectability to the visitors’ second innings effort.
Lutho Sipamla then got in on the act as he mopped up the tail that saw Sri Lanka dismissed for 211.
Ngidi bagged 4/44‚ Nortje 2/64 and Sipamla 3/40 as South Africa closed in on a series victory.