COLOMBO – South Africa rode their luck during the second session on the third day of the first Test here at the SSC.
But the visitors still face a mountainous task to rescue the series.
Set the daunting 490-run target for victory after Sri Lanka declared their second innings on 275/5, the Proteas somehow reached the tea interval for just the loss of Aiden Markram (7).
Sri Lanka could easily have had a couple more wickets with firstly Markram dropped at slip early on his innings, before Dean Elgar survived a dropped chance too and a reprieve when Dilruwan Perera over-stepped the front crease with a delivery that clean bowled Elgar.
And then shortly before the tea interval, new batsman Theunis de Bruyn survived two successive lbw appeals with DRS ruling it “Umpire’s Call” despite both balls hitting the stumps.
If that was enough, De Bruyn was dropped close-in the very next ball – which incidentally was the last ball before the tea interval.
South Africa require all this good fortune – if only to take the match into the fourth day – after Sri Lanka drilled them into the SSC surface earlier in the day.
There was another marathon spell from Keshav Maharaj, who bowled another 40 overs to go with his 41.2 of the first innings.
The left-arm spinner, however, managed to finish with career-best match figures of 12/283 after his record nine-wicket haul in the first innings.
Second Test, Day 3, Tea
Sri Lanka: 338 and 275/5 declared
South Africa: 124 and 38/1
South Africa require another 452 runs with 9 wickets remaining