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Sri Lanka vs South Africa 1st Test, Day 1 at Galle: Talking points from the day’s play

Dean Elgar filled in for Graeme Smith's retirement by scoring a fluent ton © AFP
Dean Elgar filled in for Graeme Smith’s retirement by scoring a fluent ton © AFP

An interesting day’s play unfolded on Day One of the first Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Galle. R Vishal glances through some of the major events that had Test match lovers on their feet.

1) Batting Paradise at scenic Galle: The serenity and the air of tranquillity that surrounds the ground — from the colossal Dutch fort the engulfs the backdrop or the Indian ocean, just a spitting distance away from the stadium. The South African openers Dean Elgar and Alviro Petersen made merry with the insipid pace attack of the hosts. Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal bowled full and wide and kids patrolling the boundary ropes had a busy day under the sweltering heat of Southern Sri Lanka.

2) Faf Du Plessis and Dean Elgar punish Sri Lankan attack: One would be forced to think Petersen’s wicket would have stemmed the flow of runs, but it was far from it. The spin wizard, Rangana Herath along with Dilruwan Perera were dispatched with positive intent. The aforementioned intent was primarily due the strong footwork by Du Plessis and Elgar. Du Plessis, in particular stepped down the wicket and was targeting the left side boundary. Elgar, set the tone and continued to find gaps and firmly reached the pitch of the ball to clear the ropes too.

3) Elgar’s century and his friendly banter with team analyst Prasanna Lara: Elgar got to the highest score by a South African opener in these parts. It highlighted South Africa’s woes in the past and Elgar was determined to go all the way. The southpaw got to his century in stunning fashion by stepping down the wicket to Herath and whacking him over long-off for a huge six. Elgar sent a loud, chest-thumping roar as he got to the milestone completing his second hundred. Nobody could guess if there was a hidden agenda behind the ton. To the bemusement of everyone watching the game, the team analyst Prasanna Lara, in front of the prying cameras forked out a razor and started shaving his ‘handlebar’ moustache.

4) Sri Lankan bowlers fight back Elgar lost patience in the early overs of the post lunch session and a wild swing off a wide-ish delivery ended his knock. New skipper Hashim Amla tamely chipped a flighted delivery from Herath to mid-off. AB de Villiers had two lives — one, a run out scare and a bat-pad appeal which was referred with the third umpire. But the irresistible De Villiers’ luck ran out and the ball clipped his thigh-pad and clipped the stumps off a fine delivery from Lakmal in his comeback spell. Du Plessis was set to score another hundred but premeditation ended his stay at the crease. Dismissing these batting mavericks in quick succession had truly got the hosts back into the game.

(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)

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