PORT ELIZABETH, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Stephen Cook struck an unbeaten half-century as he and Dean Elgar steered South Africa to 92 for no loss at lunch, vindicating the hosts’ decision to bat first on a greentop on the opening day of the first test against Sri Lanka on Monday.
Cook reached the milestone in the last over before the break, going to lunch 52 not out with Elgar unbeaten on 39.
Captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and chose to bat on a wicket with early moisture that dried out quickly with the openers looking completely at ease against a Sri Lankan attack that looked far from intimidating at St George’s Park.
With a strong batting line up to follow, the hosts will now be looking to impose themselves even further in near-perfect conditions for batting.
The home side were 40 without loss off 15 overs after the first hour and picked up the pace slightly in the second hour of the day.
There was little offered to Sri Lanka although Elgar got a healthy edge to the last ball of the 17th over but the ball dropped well short of the slips.
Sri Lanka brought on spinner Rangana Herath in the 20th over, by which time the two openers looked well settled.
The Boxing Day battle is the first in a three-match series, with tests to follow in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Sri Lanka, who have lost eight of 10 previous tests in South Africa, are hoping a young side will prove competitive after beating Australia at home in mid-year and then Zimbabwe away in October and November.
Conditions, however, will not work to their strengths as South Africa prepare pitches that favour their pace attack, that is expected to dominate even with Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn out injured.
The home side can move up to second in the International Cricket Council test rankings if they win all three tests. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)