A top-class spell of seam bowling by Thisara Perera allowed Sri Lanka to restore a semblance of parity as South Africa reached 168 for four at lunch on the second day of the first Test yesterday.
South Africa, replying to Sri Lanka’s first innings of 180, resumed on 90 for one, but made a poor start to the day when nightwatchman Dale Steyn was run out for a duck in the second over of the morning.
Steyn fended a lifting delivery from left-arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara away on the leg-side and there was confusion between him and Jacques Rudolph, allowing Rangana Herath at mid-wicket to score a direct hit on the stumps.
Rudolph and Hashim Amla (18) added 35 for the third wicket, but the Sri Lanka bowlers kept plugging away and Perera reaped the reward.
Bowling a consistent line and length outside off-stump, Perera found the edge of Amla’s bat and Angelo Mathews took a fine diving catch at third slip.
Opening batsman Rudolph, battling the pain of a dislocated little finger on his left hand, showed tremendous determination in a 228-minute vigil at the crease, but Perera ended his resistance on 44, nipping away a delivery that found the edge and traveled low to Tharanga Paranavitana at first slip.
Jacques Kallis was on 28 not out at the break, with A.B. de Villiers on 10, but his stay was not without incident.
He ducked into a bouncer from fast bowler Dilhara Fernando and was struck a disorientating blow on the earpiece of his helmet. Kallis received treatment for seven minutes before resuming his innings on 25 and was lucky as he prodded at the first delivery of Fernando’s next over and edged a catch which diving wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva should have taken.
Perera went into lunch with figures of two for 63, while Fernando had one for 47 in 15 probing overs.