Faf du Plessis puts Proteas in control as Sri Lanka battle injuries at tea on Day 3
PRETORIA – Sri Lanka were counting the wounded, along with South Africa’s lead as the home side assumed control of the first Test here on Monday
At tea South Africa were 565/5, a lead of 169 runs, which on a pitch that is continuing to show signs of uneven bounce is a substantial advantage. Faf du Plessis, was not out on 177 and will resume with Keshav Maharaj, on 43, for the final session on day three.
However the Sri Lankans have had to cop blow after blow in this match and not just from the blades of the South African batsmen.
They had already lost Dhananjaya de Silva for the series after he tore his left thigh while taking an innocuous single on the first day. He had to retire hurt on 79, and that moment has become a major turning point, for the tourists were well on top at that stage.
Then on Sunday, just six overs into South Africa’s replay, opening bowler, Kasun Rajitha went off with what appeared to be a groin problem. He has still not returned to the match and as yet the Sri Lankans have not confirmed the nature of the injury nor its seriousness.
Lahiru Kumara, there quickest bowler, and on this surface their most threatening then left the field after bowling one ball in his 22nd over. He too seemed to be favouring his groin area, and had not returned either. They were joined later by leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, who dived for the ball trying to stop a boundary. Rather disconcertingly he was taken off on the medical cart, but he did return and bowled a couple of overs shortly before the tea break, although he certainly doesn’t look completely fit.
Thankfully, wicketkeeper, Niroshan Dickwella was able to continue after receiving treatment for what appeared to be a bee sting.
Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis had to complete a few overs relieving much of the pressure on Du Plessis and Maharaj.
The only success for the tourists, came with the wicket Wiaan Mulder, who looked good in mkaing 36, before trying to cut one from Hasaranga that bounced more than he’d thought with Dickwella taking a neat catch.
Du Plessis, who’s been regularly taken on board fluids and supplements as he battles very hot conditions, went passed his previous highest Test score of 137 as he and Maharaj’s partnership grew to 89 runs.