Marchant de Lange took 3-38 on debut to subdue Sri Lanka on the first day of the second Test at Kingsmead yesterday.
De Lange removed two batsmen in his first three overs in Test cricket to help limit Sri Lanka to 197-5 at tea on a fast but true pitch in Durban in South Africa’s Boxing Day Test.
Replacing impressive newcomer Vernon Philander, who was ruled out on the eve of the match with injury, de Lange also made a successful start by dismissing Tharanga Paranavitana, top-ranked Test batsman Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews.
Imran Tahir and Morne Morkel had a wicket each, but South Africa worked hard for their breakthroughs in a hot and humid Durban.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (47), Mahela Jayawardene (31) and Thilan Samaraweera, who was 40 not out, all made solid starts for Sri Lanka in an improved batting effort after they were bowled out for 180 and 150 to lose the first Test by an innings and 81 runs.
Jayawardene became only the ninth batsman to pass 10,000 runs in Tests with his first scoring shot at Kingsmead, but he was bowled by Morkel two overs after lunch as South Africa continued to chip away at Sri Lanka’s lineup.
De Lange’s two early strikes, in his second and third over, had Sri Lanka 47-2 as the 21-year-old debutant found enough movement to force Paranavitana and Sangakkara to edge to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher after the tourists had opted to bat first on a hard, brown strip.
The right-arm seamer was only called into the team on Sunday night when Philander — who took 10 wickets in South Africa’s dominant win in the first Test — missed out with a ligament strain in his left knee.
De Lange added to his start with a one-handed reflex catch to have Mathews caught and bowled for 30 and end a promising 45-run partnership with Samaraweera after lunch. He also just missed a catch off Tahir late in the second session in an action-packed start to his five-day career, having played just 14 first-class matches before his first Test.
Despite de Lange’s immediate success, Sri Lanka still made better progress than their first-Test scores in Centurion, where South Africa won inside three days to lead the three-match series 1-0.
Dilshan hit six fours and played attacking — and sometimes carefree — shots as Sri Lanka tried to play themselves out of their recent batting slumps that have contributed to a record of 15 matches without a win stretching back to July last year.
The Sri Lanka skipper cut, drove and pulled with intent, before he swept a full toss from leg-spinner Tahir straight to Morkel at backward square-leg just before lunch.
Jayawardene fell soon after the break, attempting an expansive drive off a full delivery from Morkel to lose his stumps.
Samaraweera went to tea 10 short of a half-century and he was well supported by debutant Dinesh Chandimal (26 not out).