VERNON PHILANDER and Kagiso Rabada continued the hatchet job they started in the Sri Lanka first innings as the Standard Bank Proteas closed in on a series-clinching victory at the close of the third day in the second Sunfoil Test match at PPC Newlands on Wednesday.
The pair shared eight wickets between them in the first innings and collected another two apiece in the second as the visitors struggled to 130/4 at the close with their two senior batsmen, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal doing their best to hold the fort.
Faf du Plessis had set them an improbable victory target of 507 which is almost 100 runs more than the highest successful fourth innings runs chase ever and has indeed only been bettered once as a fourth innings total.
That was the 654/5 that England made in the notorious drawn timeless test at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in 1939. Conditions were rather different then with the match lasting 10 days in total.
In fairness to Sri Lanka they had one of their better days of the series to date as they prevented the Proteas from running away in their second innings. They took 4/101 in the morning session and a further 3/88 between lunch and tea before Du Plessis applied the declaration. There was also a lot more application to their batting in the second innings with the bowlers having to work harder for success.
Dean Elgar followed his first innings century with top score of 55 (91 balls, 7 fours) and also shared yet another half-century stand with Stephen Cook. If there was a disappointment for the Proteas it was the fact that the three batsmen most in need of runs – Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Temba Bavuma – did not getting going with Amla and Bavuma both failing to score. Amla got an excellent delivery from Suranga Lakmal as did Duminy while Bavuma suffered an unlucky run out as his bat bounced although he had part of it across the line.
Lakmal once again carried the Sri Lanka attack as he has done for most of the series to date. He now has 17 victims from four innings which is twice as many as any of his colleagues.
Lahiru Kumara, the bowling hero of the first innings, could not find his length second time around although he did claim the scalp of Quinton de Kock, which is probably the most prized in the Proteas line-up at the moment.
Sri Lanka need a further 377 for victory but in reality the Proteas only need two more wickets to break into the tail and wrap proceedings up.