Tue, 26 Mar 2019

Bavuma, de Kock fight but Sri Lanka wrest control

ESPNCricInfo
13 Feb 2019, 23:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Tea South Africa 181 for 7 (de Kock 44*, Rabada 1*, Vishwa 3-49) v Sri Lanka

Put in to bat by Sri Lanka this morning, South Africa struggled through to tea in bowler-friendly conditions at Kingsmead. Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha, who before this game had played a combined seven Tests, had a hand (or a boot) in six of the seven wickets to fall as South Africa reached 181 for 7.

The hosts opted to drop Theunis de Bruyn and play five bowlers in this game with a view to using their firepower with the ball to blow Sri Lanka away, but the move put a little extra pressure on the top order. After three quick strikes this morning, South Africa were grateful for a 72-run stand between Temba Bavuma and Faf du Plessis, as well as a counter-attacking run-a-ball 47-run partnership between Quinton de Kock and Keshav Maharaj that spared further blushes.

On either side of those stands, however, Sri Lanka made rapid inroads on a green, grassy pitch that didn't offer much pace but kept the bowlers encouraged with sideways movement.

Given the new ball, Fernando removed both South African openers inside the first 10 overs of the day, and might have had a third early strike were it not for what appeared to be a DRS timing error from Umpire Aleem Dar.

Tea: South Africa 181 for 7 (de Kock 44*, Bavuma 47, Fernando 3-49) v Sri Lanka

With his fourth ball of the day, Fernando had Dean Elgar caught behind, and with his sixth he appeared to have trapped Hashim Amla lbw. But Dar turned down the appeal, and then refused to send Sri Lanka's DRS request upstairs on the basis that they had taken too long to ask for it.

Amla couldn't make the second chance count, however, and five overs later he was late in his decision to leave an outswinging delivery from Suranga Lakmal, running a catch to Kusal Mendis at second slip off the face of the bat. The umpiring once again courted controversy as Umpire Richard Kettleborough referred the catch, giving a 'not out' soft signal that was overturned by TV Umpire Ian Gould.

When Fernando bowled Aiden Markram in the next over with a delivery that curved in through the air to beat the inside edge and rattle the stumps, South Africa were in serious strife at 17 for 3, but after drinks Bavuma and du Plessis started to find their groove.

Rajitha was the quickest bowler of the morning, regularly getting the ball through at more than 140km/h, but he struggled a little for consistency and du Plessis brought up the fifty stand with a slashed square drive in his fourth over.

Looking for a breakthrough, captain Dimuth Karunaratne tossed the ball to Rajitha for the final over before lunch, and with his second ball he strangled du Plessis down the leg side. It was the sort of delivery that both du Plessis and Bavuma had hit for four earlier in the session, but this time du Plessis could only manage a faint touch on the ball as it shot down the leg side and into Niroshan Dickwella's gloves. Umpire Kettleborough turned the appeal down, but Karunaratne called immediately for the review and replays showed a thin edge.

Bavuma looked set for a 14th Test fifty when he was run out at the non-striker's end as a de Kock drive ricocheted off Fernando's boot and onto the stumps with his bat fractionally behind the line. Vernon Philander got himself into a tangle looking to pull an effort ball from Rajitha that beat him for pace, chipping a simple return catch back to the bowler, and South Africa were floundering at 131 for 6.

But de Kock found an able partner in Maharaj, who took it upon himself to lead the counter-attack and struck four boundaries before he feathered a poke at a Fernando cutter to be caught behind for 29.

South Africa's hopes for a challenging total will now hinge on de Kock, who remained unbeaten on 44 when the interval arrived with Kagiso Rabada for company.

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