GALLE: Fast-bowler Dale Steyn grabbed five wickets as South Africa seized control on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka on Friday.
Steyn, 31, unleashed some fiery bowling without much help from a dry and flat track to finish with figures of 5-50, his 23rd five-wicket haul in Tests.
At stumps, Sri Lanka were 283-9, still trailing by 172 runs with just one wicket in hand.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews fought back valiantly with an 89-run knock before being bowled by leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
Mathews, who missed scoring his third Test ton on the trot, also shared 71 runs with Rangana Herath for the eighth wicket, the highest partnership of the innings.
His effort was especially commendable since Sri Lanka’s two big hitters – Mahela Jayawardene (three) and Kumar Sangakkara (24) – failed with the bat.
Steyn struck early in the final session, removing Lahiru Thirimanne (38) with an away-moving delivery which the batsman edged behind to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
The fast-bowler struck again soon to dismiss Dinesh Chandimal and Dilruwan Perera off his consecutive overs to cap a three-wicket burst.
Chandimal (six) was caught at midwicket while Perera snicked to De Kock without opening his account.
Mathews tried to hit back, smacking Morne Morkel (2-45) for five fours in one over to race to his fifties but that was a rare show of dominance on an otherwise disappointing day for the home team.
“On green-tops people expect you take a lot of wickets,” said Steyn. “But it’s difficult to bowl on sub-continent wickets.
“I really enjoy the challenge of bowling in the sub-continent and taking five-wicket hauls where I haven’t before.”
Earlier, Tharanga, making a Test comeback after more than six years, stood out with his doughty 83-run innings that contained 14 fours and a six.
Tharanga defied the hostile fast-bowling for some three hours but he was finally undone by part-time spinner Jean-Paul Duminy who had him stumped by De Kock.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2014.
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