Kusal Mendis scored his third Test half-century    AFP
Kusal Mendis scored his third Test half-century AFP

South Africa had clearly pinned hopes of a win on Day Four of the first Test at Port Elizabeth against Sri Lanka. After a poor show in the first innings not many would have given the visitors any chances of surviving the day. Sri Lanka s top order though had other plans; they inevitably proved everyone horribly wrong. Their chase of 488 almost looked a reality with the solid start they achieved. By the end of the day, poor shot selection from the Sri Lankan middle-order led to the Test swinging in South Africa’s favour.

Quinton de Kock s blistering fifty: Coming at a crucial juncture for his side, Quinton de Kock played the role of an aggressor in the middle. Combining with Faf du Plessis, de Kock added quick runs late into Day Three with South Africa on the look out for declaration. De Kock amidst all the hitting did show off his defensive skills against the new ball on Day Four. De Kock was more sharp and clinical than Du Plessis who surely had a calming affect on the young player.

LIVE Cricket Scorecard, South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test at Port Elizabeth

De Kock notched up his seventh Test fifty from 66 balls. De Kock post his fifty opened up and took charge against Rangana Herath and Dhananjaya de Silva. De Kock was out for a 86-ball 69.

Faf du Plessis s calming fifty: Du Plessis came out on Day Three with clear intentions of seeing his team to victory. Du Plessis played a complete opposite knock in terms of what he is known for. Du Plessis blocked most off the deliveries he faced while knocking over singles and doubles at force. Du Plessis looked in no hurry to score quick runs but guaranteed the flow of runs kept coming.

Du Plessis came out on Day Four and calmly recorded his ninth Test half-century in 73-balls. Du Plessis remained unbeaten on 67 when South Africa declared their innings at 406. Du Plessis s knock included just 3 fours.

Kaushal Silva s defiant 48: Sri Lanka needed someone to stay in the middle and fight out a challenging battle if they need to chase down 488 runs. Kaushal Silva did just the same, he did not bow down against the pace trio of Abbott, Rabada and Philander. Kaushal Silva showed exemplary bravery taking body blows against some serious pace dished out by Rabada. He along with Dimuth Karunaratne added a solid and sturdy platform of 87 runs for the first wicket.

Kaushal Silva soon started flourishing against the spin of Keshav Maharaj taking on the young spinner. He eventually departed just after tea for a 118-ball 48.

Kusal Mendis s nifty 58: Kusal Mendis came out to bat in the middle with reputation attached to him after a failure in the first innings. Mendis played out a fierce spell by Abbott and Rabada early on his innings without much difficulty. Mendis soon after settling in opened his arms and treated every bowler on his merit. He showcased excellent footwork against KeshavMaharaj picking constant singles off him.

Mendis got to his third Test half-century in the 75th ball with the help of 9 boundaries. He in a moment of hurriedness gave his wicket away on 58.

Kagiso Rabada- Keshav Maharaj s twin strikes: Sri Lankan batsmen were charging their way to a win when Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj halted their journey. Rabada struck twice scalping the key wickets of Kaushal Silva and Mendis. Mendis in a way was more cherished because it came a time when Sri Lanka was running away with the game. Rabada came over the wicket and bounced Mendis to which he played a wrongly executed upper cut straight into the leaping de Kock’s gloves.

Maharaj on the other hand, went on bowling relentlessly for 24 straight overs. Much to the jubilation of South Africa, Maharaj struck in his 23rd over and it was the key wicket of Dinesh Chandimal. This wicket not only opened floodgates for the home side but gave them a sniff at victory.

Both Rabada and Maharaj ended the day with 2 wickets apiece.