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Sri Lanka 83-3 chasing 304 to win 1st test in South Africa

February 15, 2019

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Sri Lanka was 83-3 chasing 304 to win the first test after racing through South Africa to take five wickets for just eight runs on Friday.

That whirlwind period, when South Africa crashed from 251-5 to 259 all out in its second innings, gave an inexperienced Sri Lanka team a sight at a surprise victory when the Proteas appeared on course to set a far more daunting target.

But South Africa ensured a fast-moving, low-scoring test where bowlers have dominated continued in the same vein: Fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, and Duanne Olivier all struck to dim Sri Lanka’s hopes before play ended early for bad light on the third day at Kingsmead in Durban.

Sri Lanka needs another 221 runs with seven wickets left at a ground where there have been only four previous fourth-innings totals in excess of 300 in nearly 100 years of test cricket.

The last time it happened at Kingsmead was a decade ago.

Left-arm spinner Lasith Ambuldeniya, on debut for Sri Lanka, prompted South Africa’s sudden collapse and finished with 5-66 in the second innings and six wickets in the match. Seamer Vishwa Fernando had 4-71 and eight in the match in just his fourth test.

They shared those five quick wickets after lunch as Sri Lanka threatened to end South Africa’s three-year winning run at home by taking a 1-0 lead in the short two-test series.

South Africa’s second-innings collapse also came after the ball was changed because of a white paint mark on it from hitting one of the crease lines, adding a tinge of controversy.

Ambuldeniya is one of two Sri Lankans on debut at Kingsmead. The tourists also have a new captain in Dimuth Karunaratne. Sri Lanka has lost its last three series while South Africa’s 3-0 sweep against Pakistan last month was its seventh straight series win at home and took it to No. 2 in the rankings behind India. Sri Lanka is ranked No. 6.

Sri Lanka has held its own, though, despite pre-series predictions of a one-sided contest.

Ambuldeniya started South Africa’s slump by bowling Philander for 18 soon after lunch. Fernando snared the crucial wicket of Faf du Plessis, lbw for 90 when the South Africa captain decided not to play at a ball that jagged back and hit him plumb in front of the stumps.

South Africa’s last four wickets went down in less than four overs.

Earlier, du Plessis and Quinton de Kock put on 96 for the fifth wicket as South Africa appeared to take control. Ambuldeniya broke that partnership as well.

Du Plessis then put on 60 with Philander and those two stands involving the skipper, who was returning from a one-test ban for over-rate offenses, looked likely to be the difference between the teams.

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