Innings South Africa 0 for 0 & 124 need 490 to win v Sri Lanka 338 & 275 for 5 dec. (Karunaratne 85, Mathews 71, Maharaj 3-154)
Suranga Lakmal set South Africa the improbable task of chasing 490 to win the second Test and level the series against Sri Lanka, and gave his own men seven-and-a-half sessions to take the ten wickets they need to secure a series victory. South Africa have lasted less than four sessions in three innings on the island so far, and have slumped to their three lowest totals in Sri Lanka in this series, and will likely only be looking to leave the series with some respectability.
Sri Lanka’s declaration came 11 balls after Angelo Mathews was dismissed for 71, caught at slip by Faf du Plessis to give Keshav Maharaj’s his 12th wicket of the match. The second new ball was due, but South Africa had not yet opted to use it. Instead, they had Maharaj operating from one end, and were rotating through part-timers at the other. Theunis de Bruyn and Aiden Makram contributed 12 overs between them, with Dale Steyn having the heaviest workload of the quicks.
Steyn bowled 11 overs, wicketless, which means he will finish the series level with Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s highest wicket-taker with 421 scalps. Steyn will have to wait until Boxing Day, when South Africa host Pakistan, to try and overtake Pollock.
The Sri Lankan spinners will not need nearly that amount of time to get stuck into South Africa. They have already taken 27 of the 30 visiting wickets in the series, with the other three falling to Lakmal in Galle. Lakmal did not bowl himself at all in the first innings in Colombo and with significant turn on offer, may not be needed in the second either.
Despite the conditions, Sri Lanka were able to pile the runs on on the third morning against a wearing South African attack. Dimuth Karunarathe his personal tally in the two-Test series to 356 runs and fell 15 runs short of a second century. After hours of concentration, he chased a Lungi Ngidi length ball and a edged to Quinton de Kock.
Importantly for Sri Lanka’s confidence, Angelo Mathews returned to form with a first score of over 50 since December last year. He has only played six innings in that time but had not got out of the 30s. Mathews was particularly aggressive against Maharaj as his innings grew but eventually chased a length ball that carried to du Plessis at knee height to give Maharaj a dozen rewards after he delivered 81.1 overs in three days.