South Africa and Sri Lanka were locked in a tense, low-scoring battle at the end of the second day of the second Test at St George's Park yesterday. Needing 197 runs to achieve an historic series win, Sri Lanka were 60 for two at the close.
It was an extraordinary day's play during which 18 wickets fell and 282 runs were scored, leaving both teams with a chance of victory.
Sri Lanka, who won the first Test in Durban by one wicket, will become the first team from Asia to win a Test series in South Africa if they can score 137 more runs, while South Africa will earn a face-saving share of the series by taking the remaining eight wickets.
South Africa seemed set to take control when Sri Lanka collapsed in a flurry of strokes to be bowled out for 154 before lunch, giving South Africa a first innings lead of 68 runs. But Sri Lanka's bowlers hit back, bowling out the hosts for a paltry 128 - by 40 runs their lowest total in a home Test against the islanders.
Suranga Lakmal, Sri Lanka's most experienced bowler, took four for 39, while part-time off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva took a Test-best three for 36. He was forced into a front-line role when left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya suffered a badly dislocated left thumb, which required surgery and prevented him from batting or taking the field yesterday.
Eleven runs after Faf du Plessis successfully reviewed a leg-before decision off the off-spinner, Lakmal trapped last batsman Duanne Olivier leg before wicket.
Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne put on 32 for the first wicket at the start but both were dismissed in the space of six balls by Duanne Olivier and Kagiso Rabada respectively.
Earlier, in a frenetic start to the day, Sri Lanka scored 94 runs but lost six wickets in 17.4 overs.
SCORES IN BRIEF
SOUTH AFRICA: First innings 222 & second innings 154 all out (Du Plessis 50 not out, Amla 32; Lakmal 4-49, De Silva 3-36)
SRI LANKA: First innings 154 all out (Dickwella 42, Thirimanne 29, Perera 20; Rabada 4-38, Olivier 3-61) and second innings 60 for 2 (Karunaratne 19, Fernando 17 not out)