COLOMBO – South Africa’s batsmen awoke from their island slumber here at the SSC on the fourth morning of the second Test.
After being virtually helpless against spin throughout the series, two of the team’s young batsmen Theunis de Bruyn (85*) and Temba Bavuma (63) finally came to terms with the conditions to spearhead a spirit fightback.
The pair showed great intent at the crease, especially utilising the sweep shot to good effect. This forced the Sri Lankan spinners to change their line of attack for the first time in the series, and even forced captain Suranga Lakmal to switch to the seamers for a couple of overs.
De Bruyn, in particular, looked the most comfortable of the South African batsmen at the crease as he added the five runs required overnight to record his maiden Test half-century. The right-hander gained great confidence from passing the milestone and played with a fair deal of fluency. Equally, Bavuma remained positive throughout and was also rewarded with his 11th Test fifty.
However, just as the pair were settling into the lunch break, Rangana Herath returned to the attack to find Bavuma’s outside edge to bring an end to a superb 123-run partnership for the sixth wicket. It was by some distance the biggest partnership South Africa had enjoyed throughout the series.
Unfortunately for the Proteas, Bavuma’s dismissal opened the door again for the Sri Lankan spinners as they look to close out a series whitewash.
Quinton de Kock came in and immediately played a couple of reverse-sweeps, but was trapped LBW with the final ball of the interval for eight.
The only consolation remaining for the Proteas is the hope that remainder of the tail can see De Bruyn through to what would be a well-deserved first Test century.
Second Test, Fourth Day (Lunch)
South Africa 124 and 246/7 (De Bruyn 85*, Bavuma 63)
Sri Lanka 338 and 275/5 dec
South Africa require 244 runs to win