Sri Lankan bowlers did well to restrict South Africa to 426    Getty Images
Sri Lankan bowlers did well to restrict South Africa to 426 Getty Images

Johannesburg: Sri Lanka bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake admitted Friday his side were having to sink or swim against South Africa where they are facing a 3-0 Test whitewash. “It’s tough being a Sri Lankan bowler on the current tour,” said Ramanayake after the second day of the third and final Test at the Wanderers. Sri Lanka were in familiar trouble at 80 for 4 when bad light ended play, still 346 runs behind South Africa’s total of 426. A familiar collapse, sparked once again by Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada, came after the Sri Lankan bowlers had produced their team’s best performance of the series.

They claimed South Africa’s seven remaining wickets for 88 runs and had the home batsmen groping for the ball. Hashim Amla, who resumed on 125 not out, could add only nine more runs off 44 balls before he was caught behind to become the third of Nuwan Pradeep’s four victims. Asked how difficult it was for the bowlers to do a good job and then see their batsmen fail, Ramanayake admitted: “We haven’t played in these conditions. You can’t replicate them at practice. You have to come here and learn how to bat and bowl.” The bowlers, he felt, had done well but he acknowledged that the odds were stacked against the batsmen.

Full Cricket Scorecard: South Africa vs Sri Lanka, 3rd Test at Johannesburg

“If we can have partnerships, it gets easier to bat the longer you are there. But they are up against a lot of good bowlers and the ball is still moving around.” Pradeep took 4 wickets in as many overs to finish with four for 78, while Lahiru Kumara took four for 107. But it was a collective bowling performance, with Suranga Lakmal setting the tone in an outstanding spell of seven overs in which he conceded only nine runs, four of them overthrows, and had a catch put down.

“Lakmal created a lot of pressure but unfortunately he couldn’t take wickets. I’m very happy about him. He’s the leading bowler in our team,” said Ramanayake, who was also delighted with Pradeep’s performance. “He has never taken five wickets in an innings and I thought he was going to do it today. He is in good rhythm and this morning he hit the length consistently.” Ramanayake was also happy about the rapid progress of Kumara. “He’s 19 years old and is inexperienced. But he bowled fast and he is learning.”

Day 2 report: Sri Lanka look to avoid follow-on

Philander had Dimuth Karunaratne caught behind without scoring off the fourth ball of the innings but Kaushal Silva and Kusal Mendis gave Sri Lanka hope with a second wicket partnership of 47. It all changed after tea. With the floodlights on and the ball zipping off the pitch, Rabada blasted out Silva and Mendis before Philander had Dhananjaya de Silva caught at backward point. Mendis made an attractive 41 off 58 balls before getting a brutal delivery which he could only fend to gully.

JP Duminy, who made 155 for South Africa on Thursday, said that although 11 wickets fell on Friday compared to three on the first day, he did not believe the pitch had become more difficult. “The Sri Lankan bowlers were more consistent in their areas today,” said Duminy. “I thought they were a touch too short yesterday and that gave us a lot more scoring options. When we did our analysis on this venue we did say that we probably needed to bowl a bit fuller than at other venues.”