Tue, 26 Mar 2019

Steyn's for-four helps South Africa extend advantage

ESPNCricInfo
15 Feb 2019, 01:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Innings Sri Lanka 191 (Kusal Perera 51, Steyn 4-48) trail South Africa 235 (de Kock 80, Bavuma 47, Vishwa 4-62) by 44 runs

Kusal Perera offered a breezy fifty, but Sri Lanka's batsmen - aside from a stubborn ninth wicket stand between Lasith Embuldeniya and Kasun Rajitha - didn't have the resolve to resist Dale Steyn and the South African attack for long on the second day at Kingsmead. Having made the initial incision when he removed Lahiru Thirimanne for a 15-ball duck yesterday, Steyn struck repeatedly to finish with 4 for 48 as the visitors were bowled out for 191.

Steyn wasn't the fastest South African bowler on show - both Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier bowled quicker, with Rabada nudging towards 150kph at times - but the Sri Lankan lower order, nevertheless, struggled to deal with his attacking lengths. Debutant Embuldeniya was struck several withering blows to the body, and two to the side of his helmet and grille, as he repeatedly took his eye off Steyn's bouncers. To his credit, Embuldeniya offered gutsy resistance to the bouncer barrage, but the same could not be said for a top order that fired in fits and starts but appeared unwilling to dig in and grind.

Already faced with the daunting challenge of fronting up to South Africa's quicks with the ball wobbling around this morning, Sri Lanka also made things harder for themselves.

Within the first thirty minutes of play, they had already declined to take a review that would have saved debutant Oshada Fernando when he was given out lbw to Steyn. Replays proved the ball would've missed leg stump. Having failed to use one when they could've been saved, they burnt one when Dimuth Karunaratne was given out and replays only served to confirm the umpire's call.

Kusal Mendis was off the mark with a fluid on drive, and even had the gumption to lift Steyn in the air over mid off, but was eventually undone by Philander's persistent line in the channel outside off. Jabbing at a length delivery with hard hands, Mendis sent an edge low towards the slips, where Faf du Plessis stooped low to hold the catch - his 50th in Tests.

Olivier's introduction quickly brought Niroshan Dickwella's end, the left hander checking a pull at a short ball halfway through the shot to swirl a top edge out to Steyn at third man. But at the other end, Perera refused to allow the dismissals to slow his tempo. Having taken back to back boundaries off Philander, he crunched Rabada on the up through cover and then lifted the same bowler for six over deep square leg to race into the 20s.

Dhananjaya followed Kusal Perera's lead in taking the attack to the bowlers, and as he rode his luck some iffy strokes were interspersed with confident ones. Dhananjaya was into the 20s himself with a thick edge through gully that was immediately followed by an imperious pull off Rabada, but moments before lunch his propensity to get after the bowling brought his downfall.

With Olivier placed at fine leg, Dhananjaya aimed a wild swipe at a shortish delivery from Rabada. The trap was laid, and on the penultimate ball of the session, de Silva leapt right into it.

Running out of partners, Kusal Perera continued to play his shots and brought up a 60-ball fifty. But with the field spread, he eventually played one shot too many and swatted a slog straight to Zubayr Hamza - on the field as a substitute fielder - at deep extra cover to perish for 51.

The short-ball approach from the quicks went into overdrive when South Africa exposed the soft underbelly of Sri Lanka's tail. Stats revealed over a third of deliveries bowled at the Sri Lankans overall were bumpers.

Steyn might have had his fifth when Rajitha fended a vicious, lifting delivery to gully, where Dean Elgar was well placed to take the catch but let it slip as he tumbled to his right. Rajitha was also in the firing line, particularly against Olivier, but he ducked and weaved bravely for almost an hour at the crease before the pair's resistance was finally broken by an electric piece of reflex fielding by Aiden Markram at short leg. Rajitha clipped a length delivery from Rabada off his hip, only for Markram to stop the shot one-handed and fire in a shy as Rajitha wandered out of his crease looking for a single to bring an end to what was the longest partnership, in terms of balls faced, in the entire innings.

Embuldeniya through his bat around with limited effect after Rajitha departed, and managed to see Steyn off in the midst of a bristling, 10-over spell but he eventually fell to Rabada. Having resisted for over 90 minutes, Embuldeniya sliced a full ball from Rabada high in the air but only as far as Steyn, back-peddling from cover, to bring the innings to an end and prompt the umpires to call for an early tea.

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