Aiden Markram
Aiden Markram (AFP Photo)

South African opening batsman Aiden Markram said conditions were difficult for batsmen after 13 wickets fell on the first day of the second Test against Sri Lanka at St George’s Park on Thursday.

Sri Lanka were 60 for three at the close after bowling out South Africa for 222, an innings which owed much to a sparkling 86 off 87 balls by Quinton de Kock.

The tourists suffered a blow when left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya sustained a badly dislocated left thumb in trying to take a sharp return catch from Kagiso Rabada, an injury which is expected to keep him out of the rest of the match and for several weeks afterwards.

Markram, who made 60, said the South Africans, chasing a win to square the two-match series, were disappointed with their total.

“Coming into this Test match, we really wanted to score big and for batters to get big hundreds,” said Markram.

“We are a bit disappointed but I thought the Sri Lankans bowled well. There was a bit of lateral movement and a bit of swing. Today was really tough.”

Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha both took three wickets as Sri Lanka followed up their dramatic one-wicket win in the first Test in Durban with a disciplined bowling performance.

Fernando said he was pleased that South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis had decided to bat.

“I had confidence that I could take two or three wickets with the new ball,” he said.

Fernando took advantage of early swing to dismiss Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla with successive deliveries in the sixth over of the match, which was followed in the next over by the run-out of Temba Bavuma as three wickets fell with the total on 15.

“I was bowling outswingers and was going too wide, so I tried to use the crease and then get one in. He was looking for the outswinger but it cut back in,” he said of his dismissal of the left-hander Elgar.

The next ball swung in sharply to bowl the right-handed Amla.

South Africa never recovered fully despite three half-century stands.

Markram and Du Plessis put on 58 for the fourth wicket but it was 73 for four when Du Plessis was bowled by opposite number, part-time bowler Dimuth Karunaratne, with the last ball before lunch.

‘Bitterly disappointing’

Markram and De Kock put on 57 at almost a run a ball for the fifth wicket before Kasun Rajitha took three wickets in successive overs, starting by trapping Markram leg before wicket.

“I felt I needed to grind out quite hard for a long period of time. To get out was bitterly disappointing,” he said.

Rajitha followed up with the wickets of new cap Wiaan Mulder for nine and Keshav Maharaj for nought.

The left-handed De Kock went to his third half-century of the series off 51 balls but was dropped on 55 when Dhananjaya de Silva could not hold a high chance at gully off Rajitha.

De Kock and Rabada added 59 for the eighth wicket before De Kock, who was suffering from cramp, was bowled by off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva, who then had Rabada caught behind.

Vishwa Fernando finished off the innings by having Duanne Olivier caught behind.

De Kock was struggling to run from soon after reaching his half-century and needed treatment on the field.

Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne gave the Sri Lankan innings a reasonable start, putting on 25 for the first wicket and seeing off the first 11 overs from Dale Steyn and Rabada.

But Karunaratne was caught behind off Rabada for 17 and Olivier followed up by bowling Oshada Fernando and having Kusal Mendis caught behind.