Sri Lanka recovered from captain Tillakaratne Dilshan’s early rush of blood to battle to 76 for three at lunch on the first day of the first Test against South Africa yesterday.
Sri Lanka were sent in to bat by South Africa in cloudy conditions providing plenty of assistance to the bowlers on a well-grassed pitch.
Dilshan controlled himself for his first half-dozen deliveries, before rashly trying to on-drive a swinging delivery from Dale Steyn and looping a catch to Vernon Philander at wide mid-on.
Dilshan was out for six, bringing former captain Kumar Sangakkara to the crease, but he lasted just three balls.
He scored a single before Philander got a delivery to rear up at him and he edged the ball to second slip, where Jacques Kallis took a well-judged catch lunging to his left.
Sri Lanka were teetering on 12 for two, but Tharanga Paranavitana and the experienced Mahela Jayawardene batted with great concentration in a sensible third-wicket stand of 54.
The session looked in danger of ending disappointingly for South Africa, but a hushed crowd burst to life four overs before lunch when Philander made a delivery hold its line to the left-handed Paranavitana and bowled him through the gate for 32.
Jayawardene went to lunch on 23 not out, with Thilan Samaraweera on six.
Philander was the best of the South African bowlers, with figures of two for 30 from nine overs.
Steyn took one for 13 in six overs, but the world’s No. 1 ranked bowler only occasionally produced his full pace.
Steyn’s wicket was, however, his 250th in Tests, the 28-year-old reaching the landmark in his 49th match.
Only Dennis Lillee has taken 250 wickets in fewer Tests — the Australian fast bowler reaching the milestone in his 48th match.