Sri Lanka take charge on the first day of the Boxing Day Test against Proteas

Lutho Sipamla grabbed his maiden Test wicket in his debut for the Proteas.
Lutho Sipamla grabbed his maiden Test wicket in his debut for the Proteas.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Sri Lanka took the initiative by scoring 340/6 on the first day of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday

Led by Lungi Ngidi‚ the Proteas bowling attack was troubled by the composed Sri Lankan batsmen who cashed in on a good batting surface.

Ngidi‚ Anrich Nortje and Keshav Maharaj were joined by inexperienced duo of debutant fast bowler Lutho Sipamla and all-rounder Wiaan Mulder‚ who was playing in his second Test match.

They were cruelly exposed by Sri Lanka‚ who reached day one stumps with four more wickets in the bank after captain Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss in the morning and elected to bat.

This means for the Proteas to get ahead in the first innings‚ they must score more than 284 runs‚ which is the highest innings score they have managed under Mark Boucher.

The Proteas' vulnerability with ball in hand was largely due to the unavailability of Kagiso Rabada and Beuran Hendricks‚ leaving stand-in captain Quinton de Kock with Sipamla and Mulder‚ who had one Test cap between them.

It is not known how another possible debutant Glenton Stuurman‚ who pulled out with a quad muscle strain‚ could have fared in this match where Proteas raised their fists in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement instead of taking the knee.

Sri Lankan batsmen sparkled with the bat on the desirable pitch for their commanding score‚ but the Proteas launched a late fight back in the third session with three wickets to make their day’s work respectable.

Sipamla‚ who grabbed his maiden Test wicket when he removed Wanindu Hasaranga late in the day‚ was given a baptism of fire as he ended with figures of 1/68. But there was very little consolation for partners Ngidi‚ Nortje‚ Maharaj and Mulder.

On what turned out to be a gloomy day in the office‚ Mulder ended as South Africa’s best bowler with figures of 3/68 while Ngidi‚ Sipamla and Nortje ended their shifts with one wicket apiece.

Spinner Keshav Maharaj was empty handed.

Sri Lanka overcame a sloppy start where they lost the early wickets of Karunaratne‚ Kusal Mendis and Kusal Perera inside ten overs from the bowling of Ngidi‚ Nortje and Mulder respectively.

During the second session‚ they scored an impressive 110 runs without losing a wicket as they went to tea on 212/3‚ even though the visitors survived two close calls that were taken upstairs.

After the early dismissals of Karunaratne‚ Mendis and Perera‚ Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva went about the rebuilding job with an unbeaten partnership of 131 to anchor their innings.

Their partnership was broken during the late stages of the second session when De Silva left the field in agony with what looked like a serious thigh injury having scored 79 off 106 balls.

The knock of De Silva‚ who will go for scans overnight to determine the full extent of his injury‚ included 11 boundaries and one six as he attacked the South African bowlers.

There was another solid Sri Lankan partnership of 99 off 126 between Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella‚ but it was broken when the former and wicketkeeper was caught by Faf du Plessis from the bowling of Mulder in the third session having scored 85.

Dickwella fell one run shy of his half century after he was trapped LBW by Nortje‚ and was followed by Wanindu Hasaranga who became Sipamla’s first Test wicket.

Sri Lanka will resume on Sunday morning with Dasun Shanaka (25) and Kasun Rajitha (7) on the crease looking to continue stretching their lead as far as they can and put pressure on South Africa.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.