PORT ELIZABETH, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Two wickets in quick succession on Thursday ended early Sri Lankan resistance, and moved the home side closer to victory as the visitors went to tea 118 for two on the fourth day of the first test.
Sri Lanka, having been set a nominal target of 488 to win, are 370 runs behind and must survive four more sessions to save the game at St George’s Park.
The opening pair of Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva doggedly resisted a barrage of fast bowling before a moment’s hesitation, as they attempted a quick run, brought their 87-run partnership to an end.
Karunaratne was caught short of the crease and run out for 43 to give South Africa their first breakthrough in their efforts to bowl out the visitors and take a lead in the three-match series.
Kusal Perera followed two overs later as he was caught behind for six runs by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, edging a cut shot off the spin of Keshav Maharaj.
Silva was 48 not out at tea, having being dropped twice, along with Kusal Mendis on 14.
South Africa declared 50 minutes into the fourth day on 406-6 with a massive lead that gives them every chance of victory.
The home side were already 432 runs ahead when they resumed on 351-5 but, with captain Faf du Plessis and De Kock approaching half-centuries, they carried on batting and accumulated runs easily, even against the new ball.
The pair shared in a match-high 129-run partnership before the declaration came after De Kock was trapped leg before wicket by Rangana Herath for 69. Du Plessis remained 67 not out.
South Africa, who won the toss and opted to bat, amassed 286 runs in their first innings and Sri Lanka scored 205 in reply. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by neil Robinson)