COLOMBO: Kumar Sangakkara and skipper Angelo Mathews struck brisk half-centuries to help Sri Lanka set up a thrilling finale to the series-deciding second Test against South Africa on Sunday.
Sangakkara (72) hit his 10th 50-plus score of the year and Mathews chipped in with an unbeaten 63 as the hosts declared their second innings on 229-8 shortly before close of play to set the visitors an imposing target of 369.
At stumps on a rain-interrupted day four, South Africa were 38-1, needing 331 more runs off a minimum 98
overs to pull off a series-clinching win.
Quinton de Kock (21) and Dean Elgar (13) were the not out batsmen at the crease.
The hosts, who posted 421 in their first innings, had bowled out South Africa for 282 in their first innings to gain a 139-run lead.
South Africa lead the two-Test series 1-0 after winning the opener in Galle by 153 runs. Even a draw in this game will see the Proteas reclaim the world number one ranking from Australia.
Sangakkara felt the visitors would play for draw than go for a win on Monday.
“Even in the first innings I thought they were playing for time [rather] than scoring runs and that allowed us to put pressure on them,” he said after the day’s play
“The more negative [approach] you have, the more defensive shots you play. So, we are just happy to have fielders around and make sure they play as defensively as possible,” he said while hoping the rain would keep away.
South Africa’s chase did not start the way they had hoped for as they lost their first wicket with just six runs on the board.
Opener Alviro Petersen (nought) failed for the second time in the game when he was caught off left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who opened the bowling.
Senior South African batsman AB de Villiers was confident his side could pull off a win and clinch their first Test series victory on the island in 21 years.
“We are not playing negative cricket, we will assess the situation in the morning and if we have wickets, then we will go for a win,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s debutant wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella was Sunday fined 10% of his match fee for claiming an unfair catch.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.
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