Lasith Embuldeniya and Kasun Rajitha put on a fighting 32-run partnership for the 9th wicket and then picked up 3 wickets between them to keep Sri Lanka in the game, in the 1st Test against South Africa at Kingsmead, Durban.
The pair came together with Sri Lanka in dire straits on 152/8, after having lost the visitors’ last recognized batsman in Kusal Perera for a well-made 51. Perera, left with the tail, had no option but to go for some shots and fell trying to get the ball over extra cover. Debutant Embuldeniya was caught more than once ducking into the short ones, getting hit on his chest, arm and helmet multiple times. That did not deter the youngster however as he and Rajitha stuck it out there in the middle, frustrating the Protea bowlers no end with a stand that lasted over 10 overs.
Rajitha too took a few blows on the body and it needed a special bit of fielding from South Africa to separate Sri Lanka’s no. 9 and 10; Aiden Markram, fielding at short-leg obliged, throwing down the stumps at the striker’s end as Rajitha attempted to take off for a run.
Sri Lanka were eventually bowled out for 191, handing the hosts a 44-run first innings lead.
Markram and Dean Elgar got South Africa off to a good start, putting on 36 runs for the first wicket before the former was dismissed by Rajitha, caught at 2nd slip by Kusal Mendis. Another brief partnership between Elgar and Hashim Amla kept Sri Lanka at bay but Vishwa Fernando picked up Hashim Amla for 16 and Embuldeniya then got into the act with the ball, trapping Temba Bavuma in front to leave South Africa on 77/3. Sri Lanka could have had their third in 5 overs but Kusal Mendis, usually so good at slip, put Elgar down on 33 off Fernando.
Embuldeniya, who had leaked a few runs in the 1st innings, seemed to carry the confidence he gained with the bat into his bowling as well, hanging on to a fantastic return catch to send Elgar back not too much later, to ensure that South Africa did not get too far ahead in the game. Protea skipper Faf Du Plessis and Quinton De Kock steadied the home team, atting them through to stumps as South Africa’s lead hit the 170 mark.
Day 2 began in similar fashion to day 1, with yet another DRS decision going against the Sri Lankans as debutant Oshada Fernando was given out while replays showed that the ball would have gone on to miss leg stump. With the wicket, Dale Steyn, who had equaled the mark of 434 Test wickets by Kapil Dev and Rangana Herath yesterday, went one ahead of the two to claim no. 8 position in the highest wicket-taker list for himself. He eventually finished with 4 in the innings, on 437 wickets in total, on equal terms with Stuart Broad in 7th in the all time list.
Dimuth Karunaratne survived a review but was dismissed with the very next ball and the rest of the batters departed in all too familiar fashion as the hosts threatened to bundle Sri Lanka out for less that 150. A 43-run stand between Dhananjaya De Silva and Perera resurrected things momentarily, but Suranga Lakmal and Perera followed in quick succession after De Silva’s dismissal before Embuldeniya and Rajitha came together.
Incidentally, Sri Lanka’s highest run-scorer Kusal Perera (51) and Embuldeniya both faced the most number of balls for the visitors (63), which could be indicative of the way the pitch is playing.
235/10 & 126/4
191/10 & 0/0
South Africa’s 1st Innings
|Aiden Markram||b V Fernando||11||27|
|Dean Elgar||c N Dickwella b V Fernando||0||4|
|Hashim Amla||c K Mendis b S Lakmal||3||10|
|Temba Bavuma||(runout) V Fernando||47||66|
|Faf du Plessis||c N Dickwella b K Rajitha||35||54|
|Quinton de Kock||c V Fernando b K Rajitha||80||94|
|Vernon Philander||c & b K Rajitha||4||22|
|Keshav Maharaj||c N Dickwella b V Fernando||29||35|
|Kagiso Rabada||c O Fernando b V Fernando||3||16|
|Dale Steyn||b L Embuldeniya||15||26|
|Dane Olivier||not out||0||6|
Sri Lanka’s 1st Innings
|Dimuth Karunarathne||lbw by V Philander||30||59|
|Lahiru Thirimanne||c de Kock b D Steyn||0||15|
|Oshada Fernando||lbw by D Steyn||19||42|
|Kusal Mendis||c du Plessis b V Philander||12||24|
|Kusal Janith||c Z Hamza b D Steyn||51||63|
|Niroshan Dickwella||c D Steyn b D Olivier||8||12|
|Dhananjaya de Silva||c D Olivier b K Rabada||23||33|
|Suranga Lakmal||c A Markram b D Steyn||4||6|
|Lasith Embuldeniya||c D Steyn b K Rabada||24||63|
|Kasun Rajitha||(runout) A Markram||12||30|
|Vishwa Fernando||not out||1||9|
South Africa’s 2nd Innings
|Dean Elgar||c & b L Embuldeniya||35||70|
|Aiden Markram||c K Mendis b K Rajitha||28||31|
|Hashim Amla||c L Thirimanne b V Fernando||16||35|
|Temba Bavuma||lbw by L Embuldeniya||3||16|
|Faf du Plessis||not out||25||56|
|Quinton de Kock||not out||15||15|
Sri Lanka’s 2nd Innings