Quinton de Kock was 44 not out at tea for the Proteas against Sri Lanka. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

DURBAN – Vishwa Fernando took three wickets as underdogs Sri Lanka undermined South Africa’s batting at the start of the first Test at Kingsmead on Wednesday with the home side 181/7 at tea.

Quinton de Kock was unbeaten on 44 at the interval and held the key to the hosts posting a respectable total after they picked five bowlers, leaving room for only six specialist batsman.

Left-arm opening bowler Fernando took three for 49. He and new ball partner Suranga Lakmal shocked South Africa in the first 40 minutes, reducing them to 17/3 on a pitch which offered bounce and swing on a partially overcast morning.

Temba Bavuma and captain Faf du Plessis rode out the early storm and gradually started to change the momentum in a 72-run partnership, which was ended in the last over before lunch when Du Plessis was caught down the leg-side by wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella off Kasun Rajitha for 35.

Sri Lanka successfully reviewed a not-out decision by umpire Richard Kettleborough.

Bavuma looked the most assured of the South African batsmen.

But he was run out for 47 off 68 balls, with seven fours, when a straight drive by De Kock richocheted off bowler Fernando’s boot into the stumps at the bowler’s end.

After numerous replays, television umpire Ian Gould decided Bavuma had narrowly failed to get his bat behind the crease.

Fernando had Dean Elgar caught behind with his fourth delivery before a run had been scored and should have had the wicket of Hashim Amla two balls later.

He appealed passionately for a leg before wicket decision and the Sri Lankans were ruled to have taken too long before asking for a review of umpire Aleem Dar’s decision.

Replays showed the ball had pitched in line and would have hit the stumps – and that Sri Lanka’s request for a review had come three seconds before the maximum 15 seconds allowed.

The lapse was inexpensive as Amla made only three before being caught low down at second slip by Kusal Mendis off Lakmal, who had an outstanding first spell of one for six in seven overs.

Latest Score: Proteas 225/9 off 59 overs