Cricket

Fernando, Rajitha keep South Africa to 235


SRI LANKA TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA, 2019

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Vishwa Fernando [17-1-62-4] was the pick of the bowlers on day one. © Getty

On the eve of the first Test, Faf du Plessis stressed on Sri Lanka’s ‘pace-lacking’ bowling line-up and thus gives them the luxury of going a batsman short and play five bowlers. By the time stumps were drawn on the opening day, Sri Lanka walked away with their heads held high as their bowlers put up a fine display to shoot down the hosts for 235. It was Quinton de Kock’s aggressive 80 that saved du Plessis the blushes after they were reduced to 131 for 6 at one stage.

What du Plessis said wasn’t without merit. Vishwa Fernando (4 for 62) and Kasun Rajitha (3 for 68) weren’t express pace but did well to use the conditions and keep the hosts to a modest total. Once put in, South Africa needed application from their openers in overcast conditions. Dean Elgar was caught behind in the second over, off Fernando, while Aiden Markram was bowled in the eighth by the left-arm pacer.

In between, Hashim Amla lived a short charmed life. On the second ball he faced, Amla was pinged plumb in front with the ball crashing into the off stump. Once the appeal was turned down, Sri Lanka deliberated and eventually went for the review. Their request, however, was turned down after the on-field umpires – Aleem Dar and Richard Kettlebrough – felt the visitors had used up their 15 seconds before making the appeal. In reality, Sri Lanka had used up only 13 seconds but were unfairly not given the luxury to review the decision.

The poor decision, though, didn’t hurt Sri Lanka. Amla struggled for ten deliveries before he was caught at second slip off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal. At the time of Markram’s dismissal, South Africa were 17 for 3. That’s when they enjoyed a brief period where the visitors struggled to sustain the early pressure. Du Plessis and Temba Bavuma (47) collaborated to score 72 for the fourth wicket in the next 100 deliveries to slightly even out things. However, just when it seemed South Africa will go into the Lunch break having stabilised the innings, Kasun Rajitha struck.

Du Plessis was strangled down the leg side as the side slipped to 89 for 4. Soon after the break, Bavuma was run out at the bowler’s end in a freak fashion, when a straight drive deflected off Fernando’s feet and crashed into the stumps. South Africa’s decision to not go in with an additional batsman meant the onus fell on Vernon Philander to do the job with the bat. Philander, however, fell for four and South Africa were helped just a touch by the resistance offered by Keshav Maharaj and the positive strokeplay of de Kock. They scored 47 for the eighth wicket before de Kock’s half-century pushed the total past 200. De Kock took on the bowlers soon after his 15th Test half-century and was the last one to fall as Rajitha bagged his third.

Sri Lanka were pegged back early as they lost Lahiru Thirimanne with 19 on the board. The opener showed poor technique – driving on the up at a delivery wide outside off – and was caught behind for a 15-ball duck. Oshada Fernando, the debutant, and skipper Dimuth Karunaratne survived the nervy period before bad light forced an end to the day with Sri Lanka at 49 for 1.

Brief scores: South Africa 235 (Quinton de Kock 80; Vishwa Fernando 4-62) lead Sri Lanka 49/1 (Dimuth Karunaratne 28*) by 186 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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