Sri Lanka celebrate © Getty Images (File Photo)
By R Vishal
Jul 16, 2014
South Africa took first day honours in the first half of the day’s play against Sri Lanka at Galle on Day of the first Test through Dean Elgar‘s sparkling ton and and a gritty yet attacking 80 from Faf fu Plessis. The hosts clawed their way back through an excellent session post tea that saw them run through four South African batsmen.
The first half of the day’s play was a phase where the South African batsmen negated the pacers of Sri Lanka. Suranga Lakmal and Shaminda Eranga were insipid and pitching it in the areas where Elgar and Alviro Peterson wanted. Runs came thick and fast for the visitors in this phase eased the nerves, given the Proteas’ past record in these parts.
After seeing off the early part of the first session successfully, where the batsmen piled up 107 runs on the board, losing only Peterson, the batsmen flexed their muscles. Elgar and Faf fu Plessis then took charge and went after the spinners at will. Even the usually unplayable Rangana Herath was torn apart by the aggressive strokeplay of Elgar and the charismatic Du Plessis.
The partnership was growing in confidence and the scoring rate was impressive too. The two batsmen had a dry phase towards the close of Tea but the southpaw broke the shackles to reach his century with a massive six over long off.
Post Tea, the Sri Lankan bowlers came with a plan and put the well set Elgar and Du Plessis on the backfoot. The centurion lost his patience and nicked a wide delivery outside off-stump to the welcoming hands of Dinesh Chandimal. Hashim Amla, in his first Test as captain, also fell to a unusual bad shot — a far cry from his usual prolific nature at the crease.
The bearded genius carelessly chipped a flighted Herath delivery to mid-off. Du Plessis continued to patiently craft a big score with AB de Villiers, who survived two scares. One off a run out and then of a bat-pad catch.
Du Plessis then came down the wicket, retracted and the ball bounced off the batsman’s glove and Kaushal Silva took a smart catch at forward short leg. The hosts’ biggest price was Lakmal castling De Villiers in the penultimate over of the day’s play.
South Africa 268 for 5 (Alviro Petersen 34, Dean Elgar 103, Faf du Plessis 80; Suranga Lakmal 2 for 29, Dilruwan Perera 2 for 100) vs Sri Lanka
(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)