SA Lose Openers After Taking Big Lead

Spin finally made its presence felt in Galle as Sri Lanka removed the South Africa openers before lunch but the visitors' 163-run first-innings lead had given them plenty of cushion. By the interval, that lead had increased to 226.

Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera in particular generated sharp turn and bounce. Dean Elgar and Alviro Petersen tried camping on the back foot to tackle the threat and resorted to the sweep and reverse-sweep but the spinners soon broke through.

Herath targetted the rough outside the left-hander's off stump to rip it into Elgar, who was put down by Kaushal Silva at forward short leg on 12. Three balls later, Herath had the batsman driving a fuller one, which jagged in to take the inside edge through to the wicketkeeper.

Petersen faced even more difficulties but he fought back as long as he lasted. Herath had him under-edging an attempted cut off an arm ball and then beaten with a big turner next. Petersen responded by late-cutting to the third-man boundary.

He reverse-swept Perera for fours on either side of being beaten by a straighter one. All the spin had made this delivery particularly dangerous, and it claimed Petersen for 32 when he pushed inside the line and was given caught behind. In the absence of Hot Spot and Snicko, there was nothing conclusive for the third umpire to hold against Billy Bowden's decision on Petersen's review.

The spinners had already tallied 17 of the 22 overs Sri Lanka bowled in the session as the injured Shaminda Eranga did not take the field after his batting labours in the morning. The final pair of Herath and Eranga lasted just shy of five overs, with AB de Villiers ending the former's resistance with a spectacular diving take at second slip off Morne Morkel.

Eranga came out to bat with eight stitches in the webbing of his right hand and had a tape securing his thumb and index finger. The fast bowler still played out an entire over from Dale Steyn, wincing in pain as a yorker thudded into his bat. He was unconquered after facing 12 deliveries, taking the right hand off the bat whenever he could while defending.

Herath collected a top-edged four off Steyn and tried to shield Eranga, and almost succeeded in keeping strike off Morkel when he ran one past the cordon, but for de Villiers' reflexes.

Sri Lanka added only nine runs, but took more than half an hour out of the game accounting for the innings changeover. (ESPN - Cricinfo)

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