Opening batsman Stephen Cook slammed his third ton for the calendar year to put South Africa to the driver’s seat in the first Test against Sri Lanka after third day’s play at St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

After bowling out the visitors to 205 in the first half-hour, the hosts pounced on a toothless Lankan bowling attack in their second innings to end on 351 for 5 at stumps on a rain-hit day to lead the game by 432 runs.

South Africa take control despite Dhananjaya De Silva resistance

Dhananjaya de Silva kept Sri Lanka’s hopes alive with a fighting knock on day two of the first Test against South Africa at St George’s Park on Tuesday.

Playing only his 7th Test, Cook reached survived a chance to gully off Suranga Lakmal when he was on 62 but played freely on the way to his third century in his short career.  Cook and his opening partner, Dean Elgar put on 116 for the first wicket, 12 more than their partnership in the first innings.

Elgar reached a well-calculated knock of 52 before top-edging Lakmal while Hashim Amla joined Cook and played some sparkling strokes as he made 48 in a second wicket stand of 105 off 118 balls. Amla fell in the last ball before tea becoming the 10,000th LBW dismissal in Test cricket as Nuwan Pradeep struck the veteran’s front pad.

After two interruptions for rain, the playing hours were changed and South Africa scored 182 runs off 40 overs in an extended post-lunch period during which the Sri Lankan bowling and fielding was unimpressive.

After tea, the Proteas’ made 130 runs in 29 overs to up the scoring rate and completely bat Sri Lanka out of the game. Cook perished on 117 giving a thin edge to wicket-keeper Chandimal off seamer Dushmantha Chameera while JP Duminy and Temba Bavuma fell in quick succession as part-time off-spinner Dhananjaya De Silva provided crucial breakthroughs for the visitors.

Sri Lanka needed to take another couple of wickets late in the day to surge an unlikely comeback but captain Faf Du Plessis and man-in-form, Quinton De Kock made unbeaten scores of 41 and 42 in an enterprising and unbroken stand of 74 runs for the 6th wicket to push the lead further away from the Sri Lankans.

Suranga Lakmal leads Lankan fight on Boxing Day

Right-arm seamer Suranga Lakmal produced his best bowling performance to help Sri Lanka’s resurgence against South Africa in their first Test match which started on Boxing Day at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth.

Earlier, Resuming on 181 for 9, Dhananjaya De Silva, Sri Lanka’s best batsman in the first innings got a peach of a delivery from Vernon Philander in the very first ball on day three as the ball kissed the outside edge and flew to wicket-keeper. In the last ball of the first over, Suranga Lakmal chipped it straight to mid-on as Philander completed his 11th five-wicket haul.

The last pair, Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep added 20 runs before the former handed an easy catch to first slip off Kyle Abbott after reaching his best score in first-class cricket, 19.

Philander ended with 5 for 45 to become the pick of the bowlers while Abbott grabbed 3 scalps for 63 as the Proteas gained an 81-run first innings lead.