Lungi Ngidi picks up three wickets for Proteas, but Sri Lanka show some fight
JOHANNESBURG – The second day of the second Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka was moving day – but not in the department of scoring runs.
The Proteas were expecting to kick on from their 148/1 under the guidance of Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen and for 70 runs during the morning session they did.
During that period Elgar brought up his 13th Test century, and Van der Dussen steered nonplussed to his fourth Test 50. The South Africans were in control and cruising, but just an hour after the start of play, a glacial-collapse of epic proportions occurred in their batting order.
With Elgar and Van der Dussen back in the shed and leaving the Proteas at a commanding 218/3, the middle-order and the tail-enders capitulated the initiative. It makes for grim reading: Eight, 10, 19, seven, two, 13, five and 14*, which accounted for Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Wiaan Mulder, Anrich Nortje, and Lutho Sipamla. Ngidi finished the first innings unbeaten.
It was a disappointing batting performance from the Proteas, once that acts as a reminder that the middle-order is still in a time of strife. In the first Test, it was perhaps glossed over easily by the fact that SA faced a limping Sri Lankan attack left toothless by injury to key personnel. That was not the case before and after lunch as the Sri Lankans bowled with intent and discipline, hitting tasty lines and lengths that forced SA’s batsmen to play, nicking off balls gobbled up by the wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella and his slips.
Vishwa Fernando and his namesake, Asitha, were devastating in their approach and collected seven of the nine wickets offered up by the Proteas on Monday, bowling the home side out for 302, with a 145 run lead. The South African probably thought they would have double that and as day 2 came to an end, it became apparent that they will now have to bat again to secure a Test series win.
The Test match moves at pace though, and it might not be long before the SA batting line-up returns to the crease on Tuesday. Ngidi grabbed three wickets after the tea interval – all of them strangling the batmen down the legside. He could consider himself lucky, and he will have to thank his captain and wicket-keeper De Kock for his haul. His second wicket, which put him on a hat-trick, was especially noteworthy as a horizontally diving De Kock took a blinder of a catch to dismiss Kusal Mendis – who has a pair in the Test – for a duck.
There were more acrobatics moments later after Minod Bhanuka attempted to pull Nortje but only managed to hoick it into the air, a backtracking Maharaj taking a brilliant catch at midwicket to send him back to the changeroom.
Whether you believe it or not, the Sri Lankans now find themselves ahead in this Test, fully deserved, and they should be well pleased with their gritty bowling performance on Monday, while the Proteas rue a terrible collapse.
Sri Lanka first innings 157 all out
South Africa first innings 302 all out
Sri Lanka second innings 150/4 (Karunarathne 91*, Thirimanne 31; Ngidi 3/26, Nortje 1/41)
Sri Lanka lead by 5 runs and have six wickets in hand. Day 3 starts at 10am on Tuesday.