GALLE – A combination of pure pace and sweet spin put South Africa in a commanding position before a heavy downpour forced the players to take an early tea break on day one of the first Test.
South Africa's second specialist spinner - the first time the Proteas have played two spinners since Nagpur 2015 - Tabraiz Shamsi warranted his call-up with a second strike on the stroke of the interval.
Shamsi, who had already earlier delivered a beautiful wrong'un to remove Dhananjaya Silva in the first session, managed to find the outside edge of Niroshan Dickwella to leave the home side reeling at 161/6.
OUT! Shamsi gets the breakthrough just as the rain comes pouring down. That's 2 wickets for him. Amla takes the catch of Dickwella at slip and he has to go for 18. SL 161/6 (46.2 ovs). #ProteaFire #SLvSA pic.twitter.com/V9yHg3zhwT
The Sri Lankans found themselves in that perilous position after Kagiso Rabada showcased his brilliance on all surfaces. The World's No 1 fast bowler ran it with great purpose and intent to tear through the Sri Lankan middle-order with two wickets in three balls.
Rabada was able to generate steep bounce even on this placid surface, which was too hot to handle for Sri Lanka's Roshen Silva. South Africa's spearhead also collected the massive wicket of former skipper Angelo Mathews for just one.
However, the Sri Lankan door was prized open by veteran Dale Steyn. Searching for three wickets to pass Shaun Pollock's all-time national record, Steyn inched to within two scalps when the 35-year-old deceived Kushal Mendis (24) with a slower ball shortly after the lunch interval.