Kumar Sangakkara smashed his 49th half-century as Sri Lanka launched a fightback on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa on Saturday.
The prolific left-hander also shared 96 runs for the unbroken second wicket with Kaushal Silva (37) to take Sri Lanka to 110-1 at stumps.
The hosts need 260 runs with nine wickets in hand to pull off a magical come-from-behind win with three full sessions left in the game.
“In a situation like this where you have 90 overs to bat, a win is not guaranteed, but there is a chance,” said Sri Lankan coach Marvan Atapattu after the day’s play.
“It’s a challenging total, but we’ve got a team that’s willing to fight.”
Sri Lanka had been forced on the backfoot after they were bowled out for 292 to concede a huge 163-run lead in the first innings.
But a sporting declaration by new South Africa skipper Hashim Amla at the tea score of 206-6 turned the game on its head.
Although no team has ever scored more than 300 runs in the final innings at Galle, the 36-year-old Sangakkara made a target of 370 look chaseable.
He completed his half-century in style, sweeping leg-spinner Imran Tahir through midwicket for a four.
“They [Sri Lanka] are very much in the contest, there’s no doubt about it, but so are we,” said South Africa coach Russell Domingo.
“We are set up for a cracker of a day tomorrow [Sunday]. If we take two early wickets, we will be right on top of the game.”
Earlier, AB de Villiers hit six boundaries in his breezy 58-ball 51 and also shared 62 runs with Quinton de Kock (36) to set up South African second innings.
Philander fined for ball-tampering
South Africa seam bowler Vernon Philander was fined 75% of his match fee on Friday after being accused of ball tampering during the first Test against Sri Lanka.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) said the 29-year-old was charged after footage emerged of him attempting to change the condition of the ball by scratching the surface with his fingers and thumb.
“The penalty was accepted by Philander without contest so there was no need for a hearing on the matter,” said the ruling body in a statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.
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