Sri Lanka Lose Three In Manic Session

It was a morning session with plenty of peculiar sights. An elderly man in the stands keeping cool with a tiny portable fan on his chest, the run-machine Kumar Sangakkara getting a golden duck at a ground he thrives on, the South Africa slip cordon putting down two fairly straightforward chances, Sri Lanka motoring along at well above six an over for a big chunk of the first session of the Test.

It was a morning session with plenty of customary sights as well. Dale Steyn continued to show he can cause damage on any surface, Vernon Philander had the ball nibbling both ways around the off stump, Imran Tahir was offering generous helpings of loopy full tosses, and Mahela Jayawardene was looking good for a big score at the SSC.

There wasn't too much movement for the South Africa quicks early on, but that didn't bother Steyn. In the fifth over, he banged it in and Upul Tharanga took his eyes off the ball, left his gloves in line and was gone caught behind.

Steyn followed that up with a short ball to Sangakkara, who responded with a weak pull straight to Tahir at square leg. Sangakkara walked off practising the pull, much like several England batsmen on the final day at Lord's earlier this week.

With Philander relentlessly probing around off stump, Sri Lanka looked shaky. Kaushal Silva was dropped at third slip off Philander by Alviro Petersen and Jayawardene's start-stop approach for a single at cover almost resulted in Silva's run-out.

Steyn got only a four-over spell with the new ball though, and once Philander's fruitless first stint was over, Sri Lanka cashed in against the spinners. The SSC is a track where batsmen are advised to give the first session to the bowlers, and then capitalise on the flatness of the surface. Jayawardene and Silva didn't have to wait that long. The boundaries were incessant, as full tosses were swatted to midwicket, full balls were driven away. Fifty-runs came in eight overs, and the early pressure had evaporated.

Silva had a reprieve early on against Duminy, when his edge whizzed past the stationary AB de Villiers at first slip. With minutes to go before lunch, Silva gave de Villiers another chance, and this time his streaky innings was over.

At the end of a frenetic session, South Africa will probably be a touch happier, after losing the toss on a pitch where both captains wanted to bat first. Just two hours into the game, they are one wicket away from getting a crack at Sri Lanka's inexperienced lower-middle order.

(Cricinfo)

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