PORT ELIZABETH, Dec 28 (Reuters) - South Africa forged a 120-run lead over Sri Lanka before lightning and a heavy rain storm brought a premature halt to morning play on the third day of the first test at St George's Park on Wednesday.
The players were taken off by the umpires some 25 minutes before the scheduled end of the first session and lunch taken early with South Africa 39 without loss in their second innings after Vernon Philander had helped dismiss Sri Lanka for 205.
Dean Elgar was unbeaten on 26 and fellow opener Stephen Cook on 12 as South Africa sought to build a substantial target to set their visitors in the final innings.
Philander took two wickets in the opening over of the day to stymie any Sri Lankan hopes of adding significant runs to their overnight tally of 181 for seven.
It secured Philander an 11th five-wicket haul in tests as he finished with figures of 5-45.
Dhananjaya de Silva, who had stood resolute on the second day, failed to add to his overnight score of 43 when he was removed with the first ball of the day, edging Philander to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
Suranga Lakmal was dismissed five balls later but Sri Lanka added 20 runs for their last wicket before Dushmantha Chameera was taken in the slips by Hashim Amla off Kyle Abbott's bowling.
Abbott ended with 3-63. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by John O'Brien)