Sri Lanka vs South Africa

Sri Lanka vs South Africa

Sri Lanka vs South Africa

Sri Lanka opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne struck a defiant unbeaten hundred on his return to the side to give the hosts a fighting first innings total in the opening Test against South Africa on Thursday.

However, captain Faf du Plessis might have to rely less on his quick men and more on his spinners, as the conditions in Galle may just suit the slower bowler. The 30-year-old, who missed the tour of West Indies due to injury, became the fourth Sri Lankan to carry his bat after Sidath Wettimuny, Russel Arnold and Marvan Atapattu. He capped off a memorable home summer with a player of the series performance against Australia (23 wickets at an average of 19) and was announced as the SA Cricketer of the Year for the second time. However, after the first inroad, Kagiso Rabada tasted blood and ran through Sri Lanka's middle order, picking up four wickets. While it was guile that put South Africa in a potentially sticky situation, it was largely pace that undid Sri Lanka. His fellow proteas fast bowler Vernon Philander also has 35 wicket to his name in the same number of Tests against Sri Lanka.

"I think so", he said of making a successful comeback. Steyn accounted for Mendis when the batsman flicked one straight into the hands of Kagiso Rabada.

Meanwhile, last time the Proteas played in Sri Lanka, two enthralling Tests and eventually saw them win a series on the Island for only the second time, and subsequently first time in 21 years.

Stand-in-captain Suranga Lakmal also fought with Karunaratne during their 48-run ninth wicket stand that frustrated the bowling side.

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Much to their relief, the last two pairs added 111 runs with Karunratne realising 48 runs with Suranga Lakmal (10) and 63 for the last-wicket with Lakshan Sandakan (25).

Despite the late fightback, it was a disappointing batting effort by the Sri Lankans.

Incidentally, both Sri Lanka's captain and coach were accused guilty of delaying the start of play for nearly two hours on the third day of the St. Lucia Test amidst the ball-tampering row. A much more accomplished South Africa seam attack awaits them in this series, but the theory is that having countered movement and pace on those hard pitches, they will be able to neutralise a tougher opposition on dustier tracks.

"I would say honors are probably even", Shamsi said.

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