Day 2 for South Africa was a disastrous affair. They were bowled out for 126 in under two sessions. It was a trial by spin as Sri Lanks took 5-82 in the first hour of play. Only one over of seam was bowled by captain, Lakmal just before lunch, which shows you the complete dominance the spinners had over the Protea batsmen.
Birthday boy, Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander put together a very handy 64 run partnership to guide South Africa from the perilous position of 51-6 to 115-7, when Philander was dismissed. Both Faf and Philander showed that this pitch was not the minefield that the top order made it out to be. They demonstrated application at the crease, something that the other batsmen could learn from.
South Africa were bowled out with a deficit of 161.
The Proteas bowled well, with aggression and accuracy in their second innings. Faf did the right thing by giving the new ball to KG Rabada and Dale Steyn. He realised the need to get early wickets and gave himself the best chance of doing that by bowling with his strike bowlers. Good captaincy from Faf which was good to see after his shortcomings as captain yesterday.
Keshav Maharaj was a different bowler from the first innings, he had an inspired spell of bowling, getting 3-37 by close of play, which included two wickets in an over, when he dismissed Dhananjaya de Silva (9) and Kusal Mendis (0) in quick succession.
If South Africa are wondering where it all went wrong for them, they need to look no further than those last two wickets yesterday, and if they are to wrestle the initiative back from Sri Lanka, they need to come out tomorrow and fight hard to bowl them out for another 60 runs. Then it’ll be up to the batsmen to take it home. If they show application and resolve, if they play each ball as it comes, this is possible.
Sri Lanka are definitely the happier side after two days, and with a total of 111-4 and a lead of 272, you can’t blame them.