Dale Steyn claimed five wickets © Getty Images (File photo)
Dale Steyn claimed five wickets © Getty Images (File photo)


By Devarchit Varma


Jul 18, 2014


Angelo Mathews cracked a counter-attacking half-century as Sri Lanka reached 283 for nine against South Africa, after Dale Steyn rattled their middle-order with five wickets on the third day of their opening Test at Galle on Friday. South Africa are still ahead by 172 runs in the first innings.


Mathews fell close to stumps at 89 while Rangana Herath  was on 12 not out as the two Sri Lankan batsmen added 71 runs for the eighth wicket to lead Sri Lanka’s fightback, after they were reduced to 201 for seven. Mathews struck 14 fours and a six but was dismissed towards the end of the final session by South Africa spinner Imran Tahir. The Sri Lankan captain faced 182 balls during his stay at the crease.


Resuming their innings at 30 for no loss, Sri Lanka made a poor start as South Africa won the first session. They reduced the hosts to 103 for four, along with removing Sri Lanka’s batting mainstays Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in quick succession. While Sangakkara was cleaned up by Morne Morkel for 24, Steyn trapped Jayawardene in front of the wickets for three as Sri Lanka lost the momentum.


In the second session Sri Lanka fought hard with Tharanga carrying on from where he left. But a poor shot selection resulted in his dismissal as he was stumped for 83 off JP Duminy.  The left-handed opener had batted well during his innings, thwarting the threat produced by South African pacers but his dismissal was surprising.


Tharanga came out of the crease to hit JP Duminy, but the ball turned sharply away and the batsman missed out on connecting completely. South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock was sharp enough to dismantle the wickets and Sri Lanka were in a troublesome position.


Lahiru Thirimanne and Sri Lanka captain Mathews then joined forces to weather the storm. They batted cautiously, not allowing any more damage to be made. The two batsmen added 54 runs for the fifth wicket to keep the tourists at bay.


However, Steyn had other plans. There was a lapse in concentration from Thirimanne’s end as he got an edge off the South African pace spearhead and Quinton de Kock did the rest. Dinesh Chandimal played a reckless stroke and was caught at midwicket, and Dilruwan Perera was caught soon as he too nicked one to the ‘keeper. Steyn registered a five-wicket haul.


With Sri Lanka struggling at 201 for seven, Herath and Mathews joined forces to steady their side. Their 71-run stand took Sri Lanka out of trouble and helped them reduce the deficit. But the dismissal of Mathews once again put South Africa on top, and they ended the day with a huge 172-run lead.


Brief scores:


South Africa 455 for 9 decl. (Dean Elgar 103, Faf du Plessis 80, JP Duminy 100*; Dilruwan Perera 4 for 162, Suranga Lakmal 3 for 75) lead Sri Lanka 283 for 9 (Upul Tharanga 83, Lahiru Thirimanne 38, Angelo Mathews 89; Dale Steyn 5 for 50, Morne Morkel 2 for 45) by 172 runs.


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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)