Proteas fire with venom at Galle Fort

LIKE the menace that broods in the harsh lines and unfriendly angles of Galle Fort, SA’s performance on the second day of the first Test against Sri Lanka yesterday was not pretty.

But, also like the fort, SA were rock-solid and imposing and their defences were not easily breached. They built their overnight score of 268/5 before declaring their first innings closed on 455/9 an hour after tea. In the dozen overs Sri Lanka faced before stumps, they reached 30/0.

The fact that Hashim Amla tossed Imran Tahir a ball just eight overs old in the embers of yesterday’s play suggests the leg-spinner – as well JP Duminy and Dean Elgar – can look forward to bowling on a responsive surface today.

“The spin is a little slow, but it will spit a bit more in the last two days,” said Duminy.

He should know, having spent more than four-and-a-half hours, plenty of resolve and all of his talent on scoring an undefeated 100 in conditions that demanded nothing less.

What sapped the Lankans most, however, was the SA lower order’s refusal to go gently into that hot afternoon.

“I wasn’t really thinking about until I got to 80 – the partnerships were the most important thing,” said Duminy. “Batting at number seven and marshalling the lower order has always been key for me. If I bat for long enough the hundreds will come.”

Duminy withstood a merciless sun and airless humidity, but said his biggest challenge was “trying to marshal the partnerships, especially with Morne . Myself and Vernon have played together a lot, but it was good to see how Morne applied himself today”.

The home side would have thought they were in sight of putting their feet up in their dressing-room when Quinton de Kock’s was removed on 51 by off-spinner Dilruwan Perera.

That reduced SA to 314/7 with 45 minutes of the morning session remaining.

But Philander, an allrounder in the making, batted for almost two hours for his 27 and put on 75 with Duminy. Then Morkel showed impressive form to stay alive for 22 in a stand that grew to 66 and delayed the Lankans’ progress for nearly two more hours.

It was ended with the ball that followed Duminy reaching his century with a swept single off Perera.

Morkel went down on one knee to try to hoik the off-spinner into the Indian Ocean, missed, was comprehensively bowled, and held the pose for photographs. With that, Hashim Amla declared.

Sri Lanka wasted a chance to shorten their agony when Duminy, on 82 with the total 433/8, drove uppishly at Rangana Herath only for Perera at mid-off to drop a tricky, head-high chance

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