3rd Test: South Africa well placed after batsmen's day

There was a sense of déjà vu as the action unfolded on the second day at Newlands, before Graeme Smith ended Sri Lanka's agony with an aggressive declaration that came 30 minutes before tea.

Updated: January 04, 2012 23:02 IST
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Cape Town: There was a sense of déj vu as the action unfolded on the second day at Newlands, before Graeme Smith ended Sri Lanka's agony with an aggressive declaration that came 30 minutes before tea. Jacques Kallis was ballestic in the morning, and AB de Villiers ballistic after lunch to leave Sri Lanka facing a nightmarish day, reminiscent of the one India had endured a few hours earlier in a different continent. However, Smith's move provided respite, as he gambled for more time at the cost of some cheap runs. Sri Lanka then produced fireworks of their own, in equal parts vindicating and undermining the declaration.


Until then, it was a day for relentless pursuit of batting milestones. Like Michael Clarke in Sydney, Kallis strolled inevitably to a double-century in front of his home crowd. Like in Centurion in 2010, he had de Villiers for company when he got to the landmark. Back then, de Villiers had smashed the fastest century by a South African. This time he was more sedate in reaching 100, but unleashed mayhem thereafter, scoring his last 60 runs off only 29 balls. South Africa plundered 87 off the last 10 overs of their innings, with Jacques Rudolph also chiming in with a half-century before Smith signalled the ceasefire.

Regardless of the perilous position, Dilshan went for his shots from the outset. Along with the more circumspect Lahiru Thirimanne, he endured more edges and misses in the eight-over passage leading up to tea than his bowlers had produced in the 49 overs they bowled in the day. The pitch had pace and bounce, but the lack of sideways movement allowed Dilshan to hit through the line. He smoked Morne Morkel's first ball after the break through cover before flicking him for four more.

Soon Dilshan paraded his assortment of carves, jabs, and heaves to motor Sri Lanka past 50 in the 13th over. Thirimanne escaped when de Villiers backed away from going for a high-flying edge over the slips, but Morkel had his man two balls later with pure pace. Dilshan's impetuosity gave South Africa a beachhead into the middle order, and Mahela Jayawardene endured a couple of scares against Imran Tahir with stumps in sight. But Kumar Sangakkara's fluent driving suggested the visitors were set to enjoy the best batting conditions of the tour well into the third day.

In all Day 2 yielded 382 for 3, and the tone was set early when five of the first 12 balls of the morning sped to the boundary. Two of them were outside edges from de Villiers, but the other three were vintage Kallis strokes, unfurled seemingly for the benefit of those who may have missed the first day's action - the sumptuous cover drive, the violent pull, and the coaxed on-drive that gained speed as it rolled away. South Africa's momentum never slackened from there on, and their run-rate was well over four by the time they declared.

Sri Lanka weren't alert enough to capitalise when the chances came. Dhammika Prasad got Kallis to edge one that moved away, but Mahela Jayawardene clanged it at second slip. That was in the third over of the day, and by the time the next opportunity came, Sri Lanka had just one fly slip. Angelo Mathews produced a nifty legcutter that reared up and took Kallis' edge, but it was out of Jayawardene's range.

Sri Lanka managed only two maidens in the day. Chanaka Welegedara was so pleasantly surprised by the first, that he smiled. Kallis kept accumulating, before a robust cut and another punch through mid-on took him through the 190s. He passed 200 by chopping Perera through point. Just as murmurs of the first 300 by a South African batsman began to do the rounds, Kallis lost his concentration and gifted Rangana Herath his wicket.

His exit brought no respite, and instead heralded a passage of mind-boggling innovation from de Villiers. More than once, he brazenly opened the face to steer balls on purpose into the gap between slip and gully. After reaching 100, he launched Welegedara expansively over mid-off before flapping a high full toss to fine-leg for four. The spinners had no chance, with Dilshan flying over long-on for successive sixes, and Herath being carved from a foot outside leg stump through sweeper-cover. Rudolph looked at home in the middle order, guiding through gully efficiently and lashing Herath through square leg. South Africa's audacity reached a new high when both batsmen reverse-swept boundaries against the spin from the leg stump line, but Smith outdid them with the timing of his declaration. Despite Sri Lanka's encouraging riposte, his side was firmly in control at stumps.

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